The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Tag Archives: personal reflection

A Milestone at the Six Year Anniversary

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” –William Barclay

Today marks the six year anniversary to the chilly October evening when I opened discussions with my Hello World! post. To put things in perspective, World War Two lasted six years from the moment Nazi Germany invaded Poland to Imperial Japan signing the surrender documents on board the USS Missouri, and it took six years to build Surrey’s Port Mann Bridge, which is the world’s second widest bridge and was fully finished in 2015 (although it opened to traffic in 2012). Six years is also the lower limit for the average student to complete their undergraduate program and conclude a Master’s degree in Canada; a great deal can happen over six years, and therefore, it is something of a milestone that Infinite Mirai has reached this year. The site’ continued endurance over time is largely in part thanks to an immensely loyal and well-read reader base such as yourselves. I cannot emphasise how large of a role you’ve played in motivating and inspiring me to continue writing content for this blog – thank you for continuing to stick around. This blog has lasted well beyond its projected lifespan in part because of all the interesting discussions that continue to be provided courtesy of our readers. While some blogs have been around for a much longer period, they also have had the advantage of several authors: Infinite Mirai is a solo act, and I write only as time allows. As I continue to move forwards in life, I foresee my time becoming directed towards other pursuits, but for the present, I’m still going to stick around, presumably, to the displeasure of folks where the name “Infinite Zenith” is synonymous with “disturber of the peace”.

  • There’s something about this particular wallpaper that makes it particularly appealing; the composition of the sky and the girl’s expression gives off an indescribably serene quality. I don’t often run with anime wallpapers for my desktop or mobile devices, but this one’s the exception. At this year’s anniversary mark, I’ve opted to do things a little differently, so the endless stats about my site for 2017 so far are not so endless. So far, 120 posts were written this year (including this one), and the largest post we’ve got now is the Kimi no na wa review, which has a total of 14401 words and 100 screenshots. Site traffic is also down 30 percent from last year, and the top post is the location hunt post for Garden of Words.

  • Now is a good as a time as any to note that for the remainder of 2017, blogging will proceed as usual. In 2018, I’m planning on easing back on the throttle: I’ll be returning to the twenty screenshot, “after three and whole series” format for any new shows that I follow. I’m also thinking that, once I finish with Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s discussions, it’s likely time for me to ride off into the sunset and pursue my other interests. With this being said, Girls und Panzer: Das Finale is likely to last quite a while, so I’m not going anywhere yet.

For this anniversary post, I am deviating from my usual modus operandi and will take the remainder of this post to address my particular approach towards writing about anime. While I’ve long counted myself to be someone who watches anime purely for entertainment, I find additional enjoyment when an anime aligns with challenges facing the real world – this allows me to compare and contrast real-world issues with their portrayal in anime, and the value comes from watching how people address these concerns. As a fictional medium, there is a great deal of freedom in portraying the journey that characters undertake. Their learnings, in forming the theme for an anime, can provide some insights as to how the authors see the world and ultimately, mirror how they might go about seeking out solutions for problems, in turn enriching perspectives. This is the main reason why I place such an emphasis on the big picture in my discussions: I am not particularly worried about minor details if they have little relevance on the overall outcomes of a narrative. If the entire story follows logically from the presented sequence of events and yields a message that is consistent with what has occurred, then I will view an anime favourably even if a few details are amiss. The recent trend on fixating in minor details and inaccuracies is incongruous with what might be considered good anime discussion, and this is why I have taken the approach that I do towards discussing anime. It ends up being much more fun this way, and moving into the future, I do hope that you, the readers, will continue to find the contents here both enjoyable and informative even as my posting patterns continue to shift.

Call of Duty: WWII- A Reflection on the Open Beta

“Hot today, forgotten tomorrow. I’m not buying anything.” –James Marshall

Activision has stated that development on Call of Duty: WWII began long before negative reception to the franchise’s shift into future warfare began. The full title will release on November 3, and during the last weekend of September, an open beta was available for Steam players to try out. Offering five maps and four game modes, the beta was an opportunity for players to test the game out prior to its release. After installing the beta initially, I found myself unable to run it; the game would not load, and it was not until I reinstalled the title where the game would open. After entering my first few matches, it became apparent that the game has not been optimised fully for PC yet: frame rates dropped, the game stuttered, and death followed. When frame rates stablised, I began my own boots-on-the-ground experience, making use of the different divisions to get a feel for the gameplay. Call of Duty has always been more about small maps and fast-paced combat, as well as kill-streak rewards over the slower, more methodical and large-scale gameplay that characterises Battlefield 1. Maps feel like closed-off sets designed to give the sense of a well-designed paintball arena, rather than the wide-open spaces of Battlefield 1, and the numerous corners and hallways encourage a very aggressive, forward style of gameplay that rewards reflexes over strategy. Filled with details, from aircraft flying overhead and artillery, to muddy and damaged set elements, maps definitely exude a WWII-like atmospheric that, in conjunction with traditional movement systems, looks to return Call of Duty back to its roots. However, well-designed set pieces and premise can only carry a game so far, and the major deciding factor in whether or not a game is worth playing lies with its gameplay and handling.

During moments where the Call of Duty: WWII open beta was running with optimal frame rates, the game feels modestly smooth, although the Infinity Ward engine is definitely feeling dated. Movement is a little jagged and uneven, feeling somewhat sluggish. In a game where the goal is to move around in a high-paced environment and play the game aggressively to score points, the movement system is not particularly conducive of this particular play style, as I found myself getting stuck in geometry on more than one occasion, leading to death. Inconsistencies in movement and hit detection meant that the Call of Duty: WWII open beta felt like one protracted match on Prise de Tahure. I was dying to players coming from unexpected angles and places. Exacerbated by lag, I would open fire on players first, only for them to whip around and instantly nail me, suggesting that I had in fact been firing at air when my client put a player on screen. Performance issues aside, the chaotic nature of Call of Duty multiplayer environments and an emphasis on twitch reflexes with a high RPM weapon over finess means that Call of Duty: WWII‘s multiplayer certainly isn’t for me. This beta reminds me of my advancing age – long ago, I enjoyed close quarters combat for the rush it brought. With age comes decreasing reflexes, and I’m not able to keep up with the whipper-snappers out there now. The kind of gameplay I might have preferred a few years ago no longer feels fun to me compared to methodically picking off distant enemies and moving cover-to-cover.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Call of Duty: WWII introduces a new game mode called “War”, which is a close-quarters objectives-based match. On the “Operation Breakout” map seen in the beta, Allied Forces must capture a German outpost and then build a bridge, allowing their tanks to destroy an ammunition depot. German forces must prevent the Allies from succeeding. The game mode is admittedly similar to Battlefront 2‘s Galactic Assault, albeit a much smaller-scale version.

  • I’m not sure if this were the case in earlier Call of Duty multiplayer games, but in Call of Duty: WWII, there are different classes players can spawn in as, from the jack-of-all-trades infantry class, to the more nimble airborne class that emphasises high speed gameplay. There’s also an armoured class that can equip heavy weapons, the mountain class that is suited for long-range sniping, and the expeditionary class that dominates in close quarters.

  • Here, I equip the Bren LMG, Perrine’s weapon of choice from Strike Witches. However, despite its WWII-setting, I do not feel that Call of Duty: WWII is able to capture the Strike Witches atmospheric and aesthetic anywhere nearly as effectively as does Battlefield 1, despite the fact that the latter is set during World War One. This further stems from the very static, arena-like maps as opposed to the larger, more natural-feeling maps seen in Battlefield 1.

  • I’ve heard folks complain that the STG-44’s sight to be completely inauthentic: while it is true that modern electronic red dot sights with LEDs were developed during the 1970s, the concept of a reflex sight has been around since the 1900s. Earlier sights either depended on ambient light to function or else had a built-in light source whose operational time was constrained by limited battery life.

  • I only spent two hours in the Call of Duty: WWII open beta on account of a cold that saw me sleep most of the weekend that the beta was running, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on too much. By comparison, when I played through the Battlefront 2 beta last week, I had largely recovered and so, put in closer to nine hours over the Thanksgiving Long Weekend. During the moments where I was feeling a little better, I hopped into a few matches and found myself outplayed at every turn.

  • Averaging a KD ratio of less than 0.25 in almost all of my games, I’ve found the movement and handling in Call of Duty: WWII to be very poor. This is especially problematic, considering that Call of Duty: WWII is meant to be a fast-paced shooter where reflexes and high sensitivities are king: slow movements and aiming made it difficult to aim and fire, taking away from the run-and-gun style of play that Call of Duty emphasises.

  • I’ve heard that client-side modifications were widespread during the open beta, allowing people to one-shot other players with instant headshots, or else gain awareness of where all of the other players were. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I would prefer a hardware ban for folks caught cheating as Blizzard has implemented in Overwatch: this forces all but the most resourceful of cheaters with deep pockets to think twice before using tools to bolster their in-game performance.

  • On my end, I do not believe I encountered any cheaters. The biggest enemy ultimately ended up being the game performance itself: my hardware, while four years old, is no slouch with respect to performance. Nonetheless, I saw the game dip below 15 FPS during some moments, and I could only watch as other player lined up their sights and pasted my face into the walls. The lag, coupled with the fact that the beta did not even open made the Call of Duty: WWII‘s beta a little difficult to enjoy; the Battlefield 1 and Battlefront II betas were characterised by a straightforwards setup process where I activated the installer and then joined matches without any difficulty.

  • From a visual perspective, Call of Duty: WWII looks average at best, especially when compared with some of the other titles available. Textures are a bit dull, and lighting isn’t terribly complex: in fact, I feel that the graphical fidelity of Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare: Remastered to be superior. While this is just a beta, Call of Duty: WWII does not inspire me to give the game a go, whereas Battlefront II‘s beta convinced me that, provided the loot crate system doesn’t completely suck, the game might merit a purchase shortly after launch.

  • I saw some footage of Cr1tikal playing through the closed beta a month ago, and recalled his use of incendiary shells in the expeditionary class. In his video, Cr1tikal criticises the map design, and ultimately, makes extensive use of the shotguns to squeak by in a match before switching over to mountain class briefly. I was hardly surprised by the expeditionary class’ efficacy with incendiary shotguns and found myself doing much better than I had in previous rounds.

  • Stationary weapons in multiplayer shooters are always a death-trap, leaving users exposed to attack from behind and snipers, but here, I use one of the mounted weapons to defeat another player from a distance. Despite the splintered wooden poles, shattered concrete bunkers, muddy ditches and remnants of sandbags, the maps in Call of Duty: WWII simply do not feel as though they are World War Two settings, but rather, feel like World War Two-themed settings.

  • The under-barrel grenade launcher in older Call of Duty games was counted the “n00b tube” for its ease of use. Under-barrel grenade launchers are gone in Call of Duty: WWII, but the incendiary shells of the expeditionary class are probably going to be regarded  as fulfilling a similar vein: despite dealing the same damage as a conventional shotgun shell, the incendiary shells apply damage over time by means of burning opponents hit, and because they replenish fully on death, they are an appealing weapon for beginning players who can gain a kill even after they are killed.

  • During my time in the beta, I did not hear any complaints about use of incendiary shells and so, like Cr1tikal, I used them during the later period of the open beta. I’ve heard that the release version of Call of Duty: WWII will see several changes, and one of the top-most changes proposed will be reducing the damage dealt by incendiary ammunition.

  • During one particularly lucky short, my pellets outright took out one opponent and burned another to land me a double kill. One feature in Call of Duty that I’ve never been fond of is the killstreak system, which rewards players purely based on how many kills they’ve gotten before dying. The most infamous killstreak bonus is the tactical nuke, which instantly wins a game for the team that the player triggers it on. Overall, I prefer Battlefront II‘s system, where playing the objective and actions helping teammates will unlock battle points that can be spent on perks.

  • Despite the closed, arena-like maps, the Operation Breakout map has long, open avenues that are well-suited for sniping. The Commonwealth rifle proved fun to use: it’s a one-hit kill bolt action rifle, and coming from the likes of Battlefield 1, where I’ve acclimatised to bolt-action rifles lacking a straight-pull bolt, this weapon wasn’t too far removed from my usual play-style. I never did get around to learning the performance attributes of the different weapons, and I didn’t make it far enough to unlock most weapons. Instead, I looted weapons from other players to give them a whirl.

  • Medals are earned in Call of Duty by performing specific actions or scoring kills in a particular manner. They will confer a boost in XP, and are similar to the ribbons of Battlefield, appearing at the top of the screen. I believe they were introduced in Black Ops II, although as mentioned earlier, I’m only vaguely aware of game mechanics in Call of Duty titles and I find the game engine to be quite out-dated.

  • Some folks have asserted that Call of Duty: WWII is a blatant rip-off of Battlefield 1 for featuring similar features, including the bayonet charge and for returning things to a World War setting. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others claim that Call of Duty: WWII will cause Battlefield 1 players to switch over on account of limitations in the latter’s gameplay. Quite honestly, while Call of Duty: WWII is quite unique in both game mechanics and time period, I found that I have more fun in Battlefield 1. After one particularly tough match, I returned to Battlefield 1 and perform considerably better than I did during the Call of Duty: WWII open beta.

  • My last match during the Call of Duty: WWII beta was spent in a match of domination with the airborne class and the starting M3 submachine gun. I attached the suppressor to it and snuck around the map to get kills. Capture points trade hands numerous times during domination, and one thing I noticed is that in Call of Duty: WWII, the submachine guns do not appear to have an improved hip-fire accuracy.

  • One of the most infamous constructs to come out of Call of Duty is the notion of a “360 no scope” and “quick scope” moves. While considered to be trick-shots with little practical advantages in a real game, folks on the internet suggest that people of middle school age take the move quite seriously and consider it a viable tactic. Regardless of whether or not this is true, one thing is for sure: until the PC version of Call of Duty: WWII is optimised, trick shots will be very difficult or even impossible to pull off.

  • After this match ended, I decided to call it a day and went back to sleep with the aim of fighting off my cold. Two weeks later, I’m back to my usual self, although an occasional cough continues to persist. I usually get sick twice a year: once before winter appears in full, and once before spring completely displaces winter weather. I’m hoping that this means winter is upon us; it’s certainly been colder as of late, although forecasts show pleasant weather over the next while. Overall, I would say that I had much more fun with the Battlefront II beta than this one, and while the campaign looks interesting, I’ve got no plans to purchase Call of Duty: WWII at the moment.

Playing through the beta reaffirms the reasons behind my decision in not playing Call of Duty multiplayers, but having tried the Call of Duty: WWII open beta, there are a few things that Call of Duty does well; my favourite is the instant spawning back into a match after death. The quick time to kill is also great for high-speed engagements, even if it is hampered slightly by the movement systems. However, compared to Battlefield, which has a better movement system and larger maps that accommodate all styles of gameplay, I cannot say that I’m won over into Call of Duty‘s multiplayer aspects. The single-player elements are a different story: until Battlefield 1 introduced its war stories, Call of Duty games had consistently more entertaining campaigns, and I am looking forwards to seeing just what Call of Duty: WWII‘s story entails. From what has been shown so far, it’s a return to the European front in the later days of the Second World War, featuring a modernised take on the D-Day invasion. Overall, I am not particularly inclined to purchase Call of Duty: WWII close to launch, or at any point soon, for its multiplayer content. If the single-player campaign is impressive, I might purchase the game some years later during a Steam Sale – the game certainly does not feel like it is able to offer the value that would make buying it at full price worthwhile, but I’m always game for a good war story, even if it is a shorter one.

A Photogrammetry Exercise in Kimi no Na wa (Your Name): Determining the location of Taki’s Apartment and a fly-through from Tokyo to Hida

“Where is Taki’s apartment located?”

This question was posed by one of our readers shortly after Your Name began screening in Japan, and at the time, information about the film, especially amongst the English language anime community, was limited. Consequently, when I received the question, I wondered if it were even possible to answer it accurately. For one, metro Tokyo is the world’s largest city, and even Tokyo Proper has a surface area of 2187.66 km² and a population of 13 617 445 as of 2016. By comparison, Calgary has a tenth of the population, and it’s already tricky enough to find things here — it took me ages to realise that Pure Pwnage‘s Lannagedon event was hosted at the Bowness Community Centre, for instance. However, the challenge was an intriguing one, and I began wondering how to go about solving it. When I recalled an episode of The Raccoons back in July, I felt that I had my answer: in the episode “Search and Rescue”, Bert Raccoon and Cedric Sneer go looking for a meteorite that lands on Jack Pine Island in the Evergreen Forest. Assuming that recovering the meteorite is a day trip, the two do not leave any information behind as to where they went, and when their raft floats off from the island, the two find themselves stranded. Despite the effort of their friends, who search the Evergreen Forest through the night for them, the two are not found until the next morning. After Lady Baden-Baden reveals that she saw the meteorite, Professor Smedley-Smythe is able to use triangulation to work out where the impactor landed, leading to Bert and Cedric’s rescue. The concept of triangulation is a reasonably simple one: if there are at least two known points, then the location of an unknown point can be determined by forming a triangle by means of the existing points. The version in The Raccoons is the simplest one: the baseline distance and angles are not used, as a map is available. However, slightly more involved forms allow for a distance to the unknown point to be determined provided that one knows the baseline distance between two observes and the relative angle of this baseline to their line of sight. In this exercise, I apply a variation of the technique, plus several landmarks in the Tokyo, to form the starting point for answering this question.

Locating Taki’s Apartment

  • Figure I: Taki viewing Tiamat’s fragment splitting up in the eastward direction. The Yoyogi Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building are highlighted in this image for clarity. All of the images in this post can be expanded for viewing at full resolution.

  • Figure II: A section of the Tokyo skyline seen in Your Name. Here, I’ve highlighted some of the buildings visible in the image. Landmarks with a red label were used in my preliminary estimates to narrow down which area Taki’s apartment is located in.

  • Figure III: Approximation of where the skyline in Figure II might be viewed from. Using the four landmarks and roughly their angles, the area one can begin looking for Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, enclosed by the sightlines. All of the map data in this discussion are sourced from Google Maps and have been modified to improve clarity.

From footage in Your Name, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the nearby Yoyogi Building is visible from Taki’s apartment (Fig I). In the image, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is right of the Yoyogi building. Inspection of a map allows us to work out that Taki’s apartment must be east of these buildings. The second set of points we can use can be derived from the fact that Taki is seen leaving home with Tokyo’s skyline visible on the horizon (Fig II, Fig IV, Fig V, Fig VI, Fig VII). Visible in the frame’s left-hand-side is Akasaka Palace, accommodations for visiting state dignitaries. Tokyo Tower is also visible, along with the Embassy of Canada as the frame pans right. Thus, we can use Tokyo Tower and the Embassy of Canada as the first of the known points for our calculations: in the images, the Tokyo Tower is left of the Embassy of Canada, so we can reason out that the scene is taken from a point north of these buildings. The estimated sight lines allow us to constrain Taki’s apartment to an area in Shinanomachi, Wakaba, Yotsuyasakamachi (Fig III). These are densely-built up neighbourhoods, and while we’ve worked out roughly where Taki’s apartment could be, exploring the area bit-by-bit would still take a while. Fortunately, we have two more points that makes the calculations easier to approximate: Akasaka State Property is visible in the frame shown when Taki (Mitsuha) is looking over Tokyo. We use this to further constrain the possible region to an area west of the Akasaka State Property (Fig II). The second point is rather more subtle – there’s a small apartment complex called the Meiji Park Heights, and it is visible in the image’s lower right hand corner (Fig VII, VIII). This apartment is located southwest of Taki, so using the same technique and tracing backwards, we find a line that passes over a community centre north of the Chou Main Line (Fig IX).

  • Figure IV: Identifying buildings visible from the perspective seen in Your Name. When we zoom in to the area highlighted in Figure III and rotate the camera, we find a distinct set of landmarks not dissimilar to the buildings seen in Figure II. I use some of the more distinct skyscrapers in the image as comparisons.

  • Figure V: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. Amongst the buildings I’ve looked at include the 43-story Park Court Akasaka: The Tower, a residential complex that was completed in 2009, the Sogetsu Concert Hall and the Embassy of Canada. The Embassy of Canada was chosen as a point primarily because of its distinct roof. This building was completed in 1991.

  • Figure VI: Panning east from the perspective in Figure IV. When the camera pans right, other buildings become visible, including Tokyo Midtown, a mixed-use building that is, with its height of 248 meters (814 feet), the second-tallest in Tokyo. By comparison, Brookfield Place East of Calgary will have a completed height of 247 meters (810 feet). Other buildings highlighted for their visibility include the International Medical Welfare University Graduate School, Honda Welcome Plaza Aoyama and the TK Minami-Aoyama Building.

  • Figure VII: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. With the number of familiar landmarks visible in Your Name, we can say that Taki’s apartment must be located close to the Akasaka Imperial Property. There is one final structure that is present when the camera pans, and this is the Meiji Park Heights, with its distinct roof and windows.

  • Figure VIII: A closer view of Meiji Park Heights. Despite its unassuming appearance from 3D imagery, the building houses spacious, luxury apartment units and is conveniently located to two train stations, as well as the Akasaka grounds. With two-bedroom units that have a total area of close to 1125 square feet (110.41 square meters), rentals start at 350000 Yen per month (3900 CAD), more than double that of an equivalent in Calgary (1500 CAD per month).

  • Figure IX: Using the Akasaka State Property and Meiji Park Heights to constrain the possible region of Taki’s apartment further. The Akasaka State Property was visible in Figure II, and together with the Meiji Park Heights, allow us to say that Taki’s apartment must be in a narrow area where both structures are visible. Using the sightlines running east-west, the possible location of Taki’s apartment can be searched for in the highlighted area.

We now have an area small enough so that we can start looking around manually, and immediately north of the community centre are some apartment complexes. We are left with several options: Taki lives in an apartment with an outdoor hallway, which allows us to eliminate a larger apartment nearby with windows facing south, as well as a green-roofed apartment (Fig X, XI). Adjacent to the green-roofed apartment is a slightly taller apartment, and while it has south-facing balconies, this is our candidate, located at the address 〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15. The building itself is called 離宮ハイム (Rikyū haimu), and from details in the film, Taki lives on the sixth floor. Despite the descrepancies in design, especially with respect to the placement of balconies and the angle of sunlight seen in the film, when we descend down for a closer look along a road, it becomes apparent that we’ve located Taki’s apartment. Details in the road he’s seen running along, both to school and to meet up with Miki for his date, line up with what is visible from the site’s real world location (Fig XII, XIII, XIV, XV). Without the use of too much trigonometry, we’ve found Taki’s apartment with some reasoning, a bit more guesswork and liberal use of Google Maps. I remark that a more precise and sophisticated technique can be applied here: because we have the heights of the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, clever use of a clinometer and the screenshots can also allow one to approximate the distance to the buildings and determine where the screenshots are roughly located.

  • Figure X: Highlighting Taki’s apartment and the route he’s seen taking to school and on his date with Miki. Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, while the route we see him take is given in red. From exploring the area given in Figure IX, Taki’s apartment was located in the space of around two minutes.

  • Figure XI: Corridor outside of Taki’s aparment. Close inspection of the unit numbers find that Taki lives on the sixth floor, although his apartment has a covered corridor compared to the unit located in the real-world location. However, as the structure needs to be suited for plot-related elements, the discrepancies are readily accepted without much concern.

  • Figure XII: Street-level view looking south from the road leading from Taki’s apartment. Quite ordinary and unremarkable by any definition, it is possible to use Google Street View to approximate a small section of Taki’s route, and I imagine that folks in Tokyo familiar with the region can trace his path to school and the route he takes when meeting Miki for a date with total accuracy.

  • Figure XIII: The equivalent spot from Figure XII in Your Name. The extent to which details are reproduced are incredible: whether it be the placement of mirrors, the potted plants beside the apartment on the right, the vending machine or the skyline, we have a near-perfect reproduction within Your Name of the location.

  • Figure XIV: The road going down the hillside leading from Taki’s apartment. The real-world location is filled with shrubbery, with the skyline barely visible, whereas in Your Name, there is less vegetation that allows the skyline to be more clearly seen.

  • Figure XV: The equivalent spot from Figure XIV in Your Name. While I never visited this spot during my time in Tokyo back in May, the closest I got from Taki’s apartment and the Suga Shrine would have been around 2.6 klicks, when I visited the Meiji Jingu Garden. This was the first destination that was on my itinerary in Tokyo.

The Giant Flythough Kimi no Na Wa

During the opening credits to Your Name, there’s also a brief moment where the camera flies from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo, through the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, out to rural Japan and eventually, Itomori (Fig XVI). This is undoubtedly an impressive feat of animation and a visual treat to behold on its own, but there is a pleasant surprise to this, as well – if one were to project a line from Taki’s apartment in the heading as depicted in the film, they would end up in Hida, Gifu, passing over Lake Suwa along the way (Fig XVII, XVIII). In total, roughly 237 kilometers of distance separates the location of Taki’s apartment in Tokyo from Hida in the Gifu prefecture. While some might consider this a mere coincidence, the level of detail Makoto Shinkai and his team put into their art is nothing short of exceptional, so I imagine that this was a deliberate design in keeping with the thematic elements within the movie. Whereas Shinkai’s earlier themes were more about distance, Your Name deals predominantly with connections and how distances can be closed: the Chinese term “緣份” (pinyin: yuán fèn, “fate”) describes the movie neatly, as it appears that supernatural forces compel Taki and Mitsuha to meet. That their homes lie along the same line is a clever element added to the film, and while subtle, serves to reinforce notions that Taki and Mitsuha must meet in order to convey the thematic elements in the movie. With this in mind, it is likely that Shinkai and his team worked backwards, choosing the rural location and then corresponding it with a location in Tokyo; it is considerably more difficult to pick a rural location suitable for Mitsuha, whereas in Tokyo, the dense urban build-up means that Taki could have been placed anywhere in central Tokyo without any substantial impact to the narrative.

  • Figure XVI: Stills from the opening scene in Your Name depicting a fly-over from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo to Mitsuha’s house in Itomori. Starting from the roof of Taki’s apartment (1) and flying east over the Tokyo cityscape (2) towards the Tokyo Metropolitian Government Building (3), the camera moves through the gap between the two towers (4) out into rural Japan after a transition (5), eventually landing in Itomori (6).

  • Figure XVII: Approximation of the route covered by the route seen in the opening in the real world. The red path highlighted shows this: in the upper left, the route covered between Figure XVI’s (1), (2) and (3) are shown. The opening shortens things after (4) is reached. Curiously enough, the line intersects Suwa Lake before landing in the small town of Hida in Gifu. During my visit to Japan, we passed by Suwa Lake after leaving the Ikenotaira Hotel beside the shores of Shirakaba Lake en route to Nagoya and Gifu.

  • Figure XVIII: Overhead view of the entire route from Tokyo to Hida, Gifu, intersecting with Lake Suwa. The total distance separating Taki’s apartment from Suwa Lake is 154 kilometers, while the full distance from Hida to Tokyo as the mole digs is 243 kilometers. To put things in perspective, Red Deer to Calgary is a little less than 154 kilometers, while Edmonton and Calgary are separated by a distance of 270 kilometers.

Closing Remarks

An interesting point to note is that only 480 metres separates Taki’s old apartment from the Suga Shrine. This entire exercise only took around five minutes to complete, although the post itself took a ways longer to draft out: from exploring the areas by means of Google Maps’ Street View and 3D utilities, it becomes clear that, as with Suga Shrine, Your Name takes some creative liberties in recreating locales for the film but nonetheless retains considerable accuracy. That it is possible to apply a bit of triangulation and make use of a commonplace tool to precisely determine where the events of an anime film occur, is itself a testament to how far technology has come in recent years. Sophisticated techniques for obtaining stereographic data to create 3D maps has made photogrammetry, the process of using imagery for locating structures and objects, increasingly accessible to all users: Google has optimised their 3D maps so even computers with an Intel Iris GPU can view maps in 3D. Such tools make it effortless to figure out where one’s destinations are, what road layout and traffic controls lie along a hitherto unexplored route and gain a preview of what things look like on the ground at a location halfway across the world. With tools of this calibre, quickly ascertaining locations within anime becomes a much more straightforwards task, especially if one is familiar with a handful of landmarks in the area of interest. All of these sophisticated tools means that hopefully, I’ve adequately answered the question posed: when asked “where is Taki’s apartment located?”, I can suitably respond “〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15“. Back in The Raccoons, for Bert and Cedric, being lost on an island now simply means sending out a phone call and tagging their location to simplify the search and rescue process. Having said this, some lessons, such as informing others of their intended activities and destinations, continue to endure even if the technology we’ve presently got far outstrips anything that was available in 1989.

On The Hillside Path Where The Cherry Blossoms Flutter: Beginning The Journey in CLANNAD at the Ten Year Anniversary

“You think you’re living in color, until completely by chance you meet someone who changes your world, and suddenly everything is so alive, and everything inside you is awakened.” —Ab imo pectore

While CLANNAD officially had its ten year anniversary back in April 2014, a time I better recall for other matters, today marks the ten year milestone to when the anime adaptation of the visual novel began airing. The first episode follows Tomoya Okazaki, a delinquent who whiles away his days, skipping classes with Youhei Sunohara and resenting the relationship he has with his father. While wondering if his life could possibly change on the way to school one day, he runs into a girl speaking with herself. Speaking with her in greater detail during lunch, Tomoya learns that she’s Nagisa Furukawa, and her dream is to resurrect the high school’s drama club. She’s a year older than he is, and that an illness has kept her from attending the previous year. Later, he is invited over to dinner at the Furukawas, meeting Sanae and Akio. CLANNAD‘s ordinary-seeming start belies an anime so moving, the medium has not seen anything quite matching its calibre: the first episode eases viewers into the intricate world that is CLANNAD, introducing some of the major characters and helping audiences connect with them by means of humour. The establishment of characters, presentation of each of their stories and Tomoya’s kindheartedness creates a tangible emotional impact, and the sum of the elements in CLANNAD means that even now, very few anime can come close to moving its viewers quite to the same extent as CLANNAD.

CLANNAD‘s opening moments serve to establish the story’s direction, firmly setting down the foundation for the beginnings of Tomoya’s journey. The use of colour and lighting immediately informs viewers that for the longest time, Tomoya views the world in a dull monochrome; despite slacking off with Kouhei and cutting classes ostensibly for fun, Tomoya is not satisfied with his world, where existence itself is a monotony lacking any value. When ascending a familiar walk to school, he runs into Nagisa. As he talks to her and offers encouragement despite not fully understanding who she is, the world flashes into the warm colours of a spring morning. The vegetation becomes verdant and full of life, while the cherry blossoms lightly flutter about in a gentle shade of pink. This transition can only be described as a fateful meeting, the sort that I’ve longed to experience and have felt precisely once; falling in love is powerful enough to give the world a newfound dimensionality, and while Tomoya here finds Nagisa little more than a curious individual, it marks the beginning of an incredible journey of effort, love, sorrow and togetherness for Tomoya. Quite simply, if there was a way to describe what falling in love might feel like, then through CLANNAD‘s first moments, Kyoto Animation has wholly captured it, and with it, my very own journey in CLANNAD was initiated.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I might be minus one now after the events many years ago, but I’m still here and still doing what I do best. A part of strength is being able to look back on the more painful things and learn from them, rather than being consumed by them: reviewing CLANNAD is going to bring up some old memories for me, speaking to the strength of the narrative in both the visual novel and the game. For this post, I’ll stick to the manageable number of twenty screenshots, which is the norm for single-episode reviews.

  • The page quote comes from a former colleague and friend, describing falling in love as seeing the world properly for the first time. The metaphor certainly applies in CLANNAD; Tomoya’s world is flipped inside out and he begins appreciating it from a new perspective after meeting Nagisa, but unlike most narratives, CLANAND takes the time to develop the relationship between Nagisa and Tomoya. They begin with Tomoya interested in helping her out to stave off boredom, and the two eventually become friends before releasing the extent of their feelings for one another, finally becoming a couple.

  • The opening of CLANNAD is surprisingly similar to the first episode of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. I admit that I was not a fan of the series until I heard about The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, and subsequently, I’m glad I took the time to watch it (even Endless Eight). Both Haruhi and CLANNAD open with a monochrome colour scheme that transitions to colour once their series’ respective protagonist meets the girl who changes their lives forever. The signs in Haruhi are rather more subtle, but strictly speaking, Kyon and Haruhi are very well-suited for one another: he’s practical and grounded, while she’s a creative visionary. Together, he is able to reign in her plans and make them a reality, while she forces him out of his comfort zone to experience more. Tomoya and Nagisa have a different, but equally rewarding dynamic.

  • Looking back, my experiences will likely tell me that this is the world’s finest example of confirmation bias: I began watching CLANNAD roughly at the same time my heart was being swayed, and it is more than likely CLANNAD acted as a catalyst of sorts for this. That’s enough reminiscing; it’s time to return to what’s happening in CLANNAD itself, and here is an after school scene as Tomoya makes to hang out with Youhei. The artwork and animation in CLANNAD far surpasses anything of its time, and Kyoto Animation’s craft generally is comparable to Makoto Shinkai, Studio Ghibli and P.A. Works’ best.

  • The comedic aspects of CLANNAD means that the anime is immediately accessible for folks who were unfamiliar with the visual novel, and back in 2007, Steam would not have had it for sale, as it released in 2015. I picked up CLANNAD during a discount a ways back, but I’ve yet to actually open it and play it. I’ve heard it’s got fantastic replay value comparable to Skyrim and GTA V, but with the slew of awesome titles upcoming (Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus comes to mind), I don’t think there’s enough hours in the day to get everything in.

  • Although their interactions might suggest otherwise, Youhei Sunohara and Tomoya are best friends. Tomoya is particularly adept at deceiving Youhei or otherwise landing him in hot water for his own amusement, but when the moment calls for it, both Tomoya and Kouhei genuinely do care for one another. Here, Tomoya trolls members of the rugby team: of all the characters, Youhei defies biological and physical constraints with the greatest frequency. He is tossed around like a ragdoll but can take as much damage as the Doom Slayer.

  • After Ryou Fujibayashi attempts to read Tomoya’s fortune and succumbs to nerves, her more assertive twin sister, Kyou, appears. Both have feelings for Tomoya, but in the visual novel, players only have the option of playing Kyou’s route (and Tomoya ends up with Ryou if sub-optimal decisions are made). Some have considered Kyou to be a suitable match for Tomoya – supplementary materials and the progression of her route in the game tend to support this. Here’s a surprise for me: Kyou is voiced by Ryō Hirhashi, of Tamayura‘s Komachi Shinoda and Aria‘s very own Alice Caroll.

  • Voiced by Mai Nakahara of Higurashi: When They Cry‘s Rena Ryugu fame, Nagisa quickly became my favourite character on CLANNAD. Sweet, sensitive and gentle, her disposition happens to be what I would fancy about a person. In conjunction with commitment and trust, these attributes happen to be the very things that I value in a relationship.

  • This screenshot illustrates the transformations that have yet to occur: at this point in CLANNAD, Tomoya and Nagisa are quite unfamiliar with one another and refer to one another by their surnames, considering one another as little more than fellow students. One of my favourite moments in my undergraduate career was working on a project for Japanese class, only for one of my colleagues from health sciences to ask if I were in a relationship, as they’d seen us practising for a skit. At this point, I regarded the comment as little more than a light-hearted joke. Another colleague made a similar remark a year later, and leading me to wonder what would happen if I Reached into Infinity and see where things would take me.

  • Resolute, determined and forward, Tomoyo Sakagami has a well-known streak of violence and is shown to be capable of fighting as effectively as Donnie Yen. Despite this, her main goal is to become the student council president with the goal of saving the sakura trees that she longs to see with her family with the hopes of mending past ills. Early in CLANNAD, she’s present primarily to lay the ultra-beatdowns on Youhei for comedic effect. As impressive as her martial arts are, what is more impressive is Youhei’s resilience.

  • Nagisa’s wish to resurrect the drama club stems from a longstanding desire to act; long denied the opportunity as a result of her illness, Nagisa wishes to do something in her final year as a high school student. I’ve never been a particularly good actor, being very stoic in most situations that may elicit responses from those around me, but on the flipside, I’m okay with presentations and speaking to an extent, lending my unusual sense of humour to draw in audiences before proceeding with my main content.

  • Reaching into Infinity ended up causing a bit of hurt, but also imparted on me life experiences I’ll carry with me and value forever owing to their instructive value. With that being said, I do miss the warmth of a smile and words encouragement prior to undertaking something difficult: throughout CLANNAD, Nagisa and Tomoya constantly support one another even as they find themselves entangled within their own challenges, and for Tomoya, he always manages to make time to help Nagisa out with the drama club even as other characters require his attention.

  • Tomoya is voiced by Yūichi Nakamura (Gundam 00‘s Graham Aker), and the surname Okazaki brings to mind Okazaki fragments, which are formed on the lagging strand of DNA during replication. They were discovered in the 1960s in experiments on E. coli by Reiji and Tsuneko Okazaki along with their colleagues: in eukaryotes, the fragments are a few hundred base pairs in length, and later, DNA Ligase seals off the strand. My memories of biochemistry are strong: I finished my introductory biochemistry course shortly before beginning CLANNAD mere months before.

  • After running into Tomoya on the way home, Nagisa asks if he’s interested in having dinner with her family. Within nothing else to do in the evenings besides return home, Tomoya accepts. Shortly after I finished CLANNAD and its sequel, I wrote a combined review for the anime, delving into the thematic elements and covering briefly what aspects of the anime I felt to have made it worthwhile. During this time, I still primarily wrote to my website, with this blog being more of a support resource; it was not until later that I made the transition, accounting for why I have not covered CLANNAD to any extent here until now.

  • A long-running joke in CLANNAD is the fact that any criticisms (real or perceived) of Sanae Furukawa’s bread will immediately lead her to run off in tears, forcing Akio to run off after her and declare that said bread is in fact delicious, even if it is composed of uncommon or unusual ingredients. While done frequently enough to elicit the occasional laugh, this particular action is shown to serve another purpose later on.

  • Akio is very protective of his wife and daughter, to the point of threatening Tomoya physical harm with a baseball bat. However, all of this is done for comedy, and under his hot-blooded exterior, Akio is deeply caring about his family and those around him. During my original run of CLANNAD, I heard assertions that Akio was voiced by the same person who played G Gundam‘s Domon Kash, but that’s not true. One can hardly blame people for this assumption, as their personalities and spirits share commonalities.

  • The lighting inside the Furukawa residence is bright and inviting, standing against the dark, unkempt interior of the Okazaki residence. The contrast and normalcy in the Furukawa compels Tomoya to continue visiting even in light of Akio’s manner later in CLANNAD. Here, notice the Furukawa’s CRT television – such screens were widespread until the early 2000s, when LED screens began displacing them. One of the joys about the bulky CRT computer screens of old is demonstrated in the mockumentary Pure Pwnage.

  • Tonight is the Mid-Autumn Festival; as per Chinese custom, we celebrated with a fantastic dinner of chicken, roasted pork with crispy skin, shrimps and dong gu mushrooms. The weather’s been remarkably pleasant today, a far cry from Monday, when a snowfall and 90km/h winds hammered the area: it’s a full moon, and while it’s the perfect time to have a bit of mooncake, dinner proved to be superb, leaving no room for desert. Mooncake will therefore be partaken in the upcoming days leading up to Thanksgiving. While multi-yolk mooncakes are an indicator of better luck, I prefer my mooncake without the yolk.

  • This post ended up being a lot more introspective and personal than usual, which is saying something. In upcoming CLANNAD posts, I will aim to stay on mission and explore what each arc contributes to the story overall. It is a journey that will lead us into March 2018. I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to write about CLANNAD ~After Story~ in this manner, but this is something that will be addressed when the time comes.

  • Tomoya later sees Nagisa performing under a street lamp. In CLANNAD, the Illusionary World is presented with a non-trivial frequency; its significance in CLANNAD is that it forms the basis for Nagisa’s play, and in CLANNAD ~After Story~, it takes on a much greater significance. This brings the opening post of my CLANNAD revisitation to a close, and the fall anime season has finally begun. There are three shows on my radar right now: Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero ChapterWake Up! Girls Shin Shou and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou. I am certain to write about Hero Chapter, and with the breathing room available from the blogging front, I have two special topics posts I will be looking to work on before this month is out.

CLANNAD would go on to impact my world view, particularly in matters of the heart and also led me the furtherest I’d been in a relationship. Of course, the real world is simultaneously more kind and more cruel than CLANNAD – my journey in matters of the heart closed a year later, during the visual novel’s ten year anniversary. However, CLANNAD itself remains perhaps the best anime series I’ve seen, and I’ve long felt that it’s time I went back through CLANNAD to explore what precisely made the anime the emotional powerhouse that it is. To this end, I’m going to be writing about CLANNAD in a retrospective format, similar to what I’ve done for Sora no Woto. However, because CLANNAD is a gargantuan series, spanning forty-nine episodes (forty-four of which constitute the actual story) over two season, I will not be revisiting CLANNAD on an episodic basis. Instead, I will explore each arc of CLANNAD. In this format, CLANNAD will have four posts excluding this one, one each for Fuko, Kotomi, Kyou and Ryou, and finally, Nagisa herself. I’ve not seen CLANNAD since I wrote the MCAT in 2012 – armed with five years more of life experience since then, I admit that I’m curious to see how my thoughts on this excellent anime have endured and shifted with the passage of time.

Warm, Winter Canada: Canada The Anime, or, Makoto Shinkai brings to life Canada’s most famous season in time for Canada 150

“Ours is a land of original peoples, and of newcomers. And our greatest pride is that you can come here from anywhere in the world, build a good life and be part of our community. We don’t care where you’re from, or what religion you practice, or whom you love, you are all welcome in Canada!” —The Rt Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The rest of the world knows the True North as a nation of maple syrup-loving, hockey-watching and polite folks accustomed to the second most intense winters of the world (Canada loses the crown of having the harshest winters only to Russia, for which our weak winters are no match for Real Soviet Winter™). Here’s an insider secret – only half of that is true, half of the time. What remains steadfast in our nation, however, is our multiculturalism and wonderfully diverse seasons – these are the things that I am most proud of as a Canadian, and this year also happens to be the nation’s 150th birthday. Known officially as the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Canada 150 commemorates the point in our history where Canada became an independent nation when, back in 1867, the Quebec Conference saw the unification of British Colonies into a single Dominion. Compared to other nations, such as Egypt and China, we are definitely a young nation whose name on the world stage once extended to humanitarianism, a staunch commitment to peacekeeping and a general acceptance of diversity. The vast wilderness of Canada is also something Canada is known for around the world, drawing over twenty million visitors last year. It is this side of Canada that Makoto Shinkai chooses to depict in his thirty-second advertisement, which follows Yuya Miyagi, a salaryman who’s been working for five years. Behind his stoic and practical exterior lies an adventurous side. So, when his girlfriend, Satsuki Koumi, finds herself under tremendous stress from work, Yuya decides to invite her to the True North Strong, where they visit some of Canada’s most celebrated destinations by winter.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The first moment in Warm, Winter Canada is of Cascade Mountain in Banff from Banff Avenue at Buffalo Street. The Dave White Block is visible on the left of the image, while the Clocktower Village Mall can be seen to the right hand side. A town of 7847 as of 2016, Banff is one of the most famous destinations in the Canadian Rockies and was founded in 1885, two years after William McCardell and Frank McCabe descended down a fallen tree trunk into a hole in the ground, stumbling across what is now the Cave and Basin. Knowledge of the hot springs predates these two railway workers – James Hector made the first mention of the site in 1859 while on the Palliser Expedition.

  • Yuya and Satsuki enjoy a view of Rundle Mountain from the frozen surface of Lake Minnewanka. Visible from the Trans-Canada Highway, Mount Rundle has a distinct knife-like shape when seen from the Vermillion Lakes, extends twelve kilometers, and its highest point is 2949 metres. I’ve never actually been to Banff by winter before owing to winter roads, but having seen photographs (and now, this short), I’m compelled to make use of the complementary park pass and swing by come December, when Banff Avenue is adjorned with Christmas decorations and lights.

  • This talk on Warm, Winter Canada now holds the distinction of having the highest screenshot density of any post I’ve ever written: the previous record belonged to Utopia (a True TearsHanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari crossover), with one screenshot per 6.67 seconds. Before Utopia, my talk on Cross road held the record for one screenshot every 12 seconds, and Someone’s Gaze had one screenshot every 18 seconds. However, with a runtime of thirty seconds, and the fact that I have a total of twenty screenshots here, Warm, Winter Canada utterly defeats the old numbers with one screenshot every 1.5 seconds.

  • Satsuki and Yuya gaze at the “frozen bubbles” phenomenon at Abraham Lake, located alongside the David Thompson Highway between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Nordegg. Despite being an artificial lake, it has a distinct blue colouration as a result of rock flour, and the bubbles in the lake are caused by decaying plant matter from the lake bed. Of all the locations in Warm, Winter Canada, this is the only place I’ve not visited.

  • On the slopes of Mount Norquay overlooking the Banff Townsite. From here, Mount Norquay Road and the Banff Fenland Recreation Center are visible immediately beside Satsuki, along with the townsite and Banff Springs Hotel. This particular location was captured from an open meadow on the Banff Viewpoint, located two-thirds of the way up the Mount Norquay Scenic Drive. Admittedly, it feels nice to be doing a talk on locations I’m very familiar with: the first part of Warm, Winter Canada is set right in my backyard, located an hour and a half from Calgary.

  • Yuya and Satsuki visit the Granville Island Public Market next, with a span of the Granville Street Bridge visible in the background. The island was once an industrial area, but by 1972, the federal government invested in the area and converted it into a shopping district, adding the Public Market building in 1979. Since then, Granville Island has become one of Vancouver’s most well-known areas, renowned for an unparalleled shopping experience, offering a Farmer’s Market, street vendors and artists. The last time I visited Granville Island was back in 2001, and I still vividly recall the atmosphere.

  • JJ Bean is a coffee company that was established in 1996 by John Neate Jr. Headquartered in Vancouver, this coffee shop prides itself on using the best coffee beans and roasting techniques to create their coffee, although I’ve never tried their beverages out before, as they only have locations in Vancouver and Toronto.

  • Of the vendors at Granville Island Market, the Four Seasons Farms, Sunlight Farms and Granville Island Produce sell produce. Warm, Winter Canada depicts these items in extensive detail: fruits are especially appealing to render because of their rich colours and the play of light on them: this single frame showcases the sort of details that Shinkai’s team can render. With this in mind, I think that seafood, especially grilled Pacific Salmon with a maple syrup glaze, would be more reflective of Vancouver’s cuisine.

  • Yuya and Satsuki browse through the wares inside the Granville Island Market: Duso’s is visible to the left, and from this frame, it would appear the still of fresh blueberries, grapes, raspberries and apples are from Granville Island Produce. Duso’s is a store that specialises in Italian products, from cheese and cooking oil to marinara sauces and pasta. Established in the 1960s by the Duso family, this is one of the oldest establishments on Granville Island. The nature of the market reminds me somewhat of Sha Tin’s wet market, which I visited back in May.

  • Here, Yuya and Satsuki sample nuts at The Nut Merchant, a speciality shop that sells nuts of all manner. In addition to conventional salted nuts, The Nut Merchant also has amongst its offerings, maple almond. One must admire the attention to details in Warm, Winter Canada – I’ve taken a look at Japanese border laws, and it states that boiled, roasted, dried or salted nuts (save walnuts) can be brought back into Japan. Canadian customs allow nuts to be brought back if they have been commercially packaged, although being an agricultural nation, things like fresh produce, meat and dairy products must be declared and not exceed a certain amount.

  • Canada Place is a convention centre and cruise ship terminal on the Burrard Inlet at the heart of Vancouver. Completed in 1985, the site was expanded in 2001, and in 2003, I departed from here on a family vacation, a cruise with Celebrity Cruises to Alaska’s Inside Passage. In 2003, the distinct sculpture, The Drop, had not been available at the site yet: this addition was made in 2009. I’ve not been to Vancouver proper since 2003 – my last four visits were merely stop-overs at their airport.

  • Compared to Calgary, Vancouver has a warmer climate, more opportunity in technology and software and superior culture all around, but the caveat is that being the nicest city in Canada has also driven up the cost of living. While much less sophisticated, Calgary has the advantage of shorter commutes, a slightly lower cost of living and more weather diversity (we’re one of the few places in the world where it goes from -20ºC to 15ºC because of the Chinook). I’m at that stage in my life where I’m wondering about whether or not I should put down roots in my home town or if I should pack it up and go where the opportunity is – so far, I’m inclined to put down roots here.

  • In the summer of 2008, I went to Eastern Canada, which encompassed Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. Seeing the Canadian side of Niagara Falls was wonderful, and we were able to ride the Maid of the Mist, seen here by winter. In the summer, the mist coming from the falls is most comfortable, and we were treated to the full tour on our visit, encompassing history of the falls, interesting figures and even a trip up the Skylon tower. Come the summer of 2011, I visited the American side of the falls, where we donned ponchos and walked along a walkway close to the American falls.

  • The only thing that surpasses Makoto Shinkai’s rendering of Horseshoe Falls is an actual photograph of the falls. The page quote comes from Canada’s current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Politics is something I tend not to discuss here, since my beliefs are my own. On the whole, I find that Prime Minister Trudeau to have a ways to go in fulfilling his campaign promises, and although he may hold different beliefs than his predecessor, Steven Harper, things have not changed too substantially since Trudeau took office back in 2015.

  • This is the Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. The largest public square of its kind in Canada, it was completed in 1965, covers 4.85 hectares and is located adjacent to Toronto’s city hall. Like Calgary’s Olympic Plaza, becomes a skating rink in winter. The large TORONTO sign was an addition from the 2015 Pan-American games, and once the events were over, the sign was intended to be moved to another location. However, it’s since remained at the location.

  • The Toronto City Hall is visible in the background here: it’s one of Toronto’s most distinct landmarks, with its twin curved towers and space-age design. I admit that I’ve never been too much of a skater, and ever since an accident where I split my chin open while skating about some years back, I’ve not been too keen in skating. I still have the scars. Back in Warm, Winter Canada, another Canadian skater helps prevent Satsuki from falling. This simple moment captures what people abroad think of Canadians – a polite people. It’s probably not the case, but we do tend to apologise proportionately more than our neighbours down south.

  • If I had to guess, this particular location would be somewhere close to the Ward Island Ferry Dock. The Toronto skyline by night is beautiful, and being Canada’s largest city, is considered to be top-tier with respect to dining, entertainment and culture. I know Toronto best for being the home of Pure Pwnage, a hilarious mockumentary about gamer culture that culminated in last year’s movie. Despite its whacky premise and zany characters, Pure Pwnage provides numerous life lessons within its outlandish narrative, being both fun and somewhat instructive during its run.

  • The last location in Warm, Winter Canada is not given on screen – Yuya and Satsuki are enjoying the Aurora Borealis: one of the greatest misconceptions out there is that the northern lights can only occur by winter, when in fact, they can be visible any time of year depending on solar activity. Having said this, the winter months are better for chasing the northern lights because the hours of darkness are longer: the further up north one goes by summer, the longer daylight hours become.The Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories are the best places in the country for viewing northern lights, as are the northern reaches of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

  • While the technical explanation would be very long and involve math I do not understand, I can offer the layman’s explanation for what causes the aurora borealis. Highly charged, energised particles from solar ejecta interact with atoms in our atmosphere, causing electrons to change orbitals (electrons tend to occupy specific orbitals). When the electrons lose their energy and return from a high energy orbit to a lower one, they emit photons with an energy corresponding with which orbits they return to, in turn affecting the wavelength of the light. In oxygen, green is the most common colour, while nitrogen usually exudes a red light (or more rarely, blue).

  • This was a surprisingly fun post to write for, especially for the fact that I don’t get to talk about places from my homeland very often. What isn’t shown in Warm, Winter Canada is that Real Canadian Winter™ is not all fun and games: snowy days can shut down whole cities, making roads impassible or uncommonly slippery, while heavy storms can knock out the power and plunge neighbourhoods into the winter chill. Wind chill can drop temperatures below -40ºC, and vehicles become reluctant to start if left outside during the night. Having said this, the commercial is a beautiful one that goes quite a way in reminding me that I live in a majestic nation of great beauty.

In the thirty second short, Yuya and Satsuki experience the Canadian winter, but far from being the frigid wastelands that might be expected of a nation who spends more than half the year locked under short days, grey skies and icy roads, they find Canada to be a welcoming, majestic and warm nation whose people and landscapes do much to offset the harshness of a Canadian winter. Produced in a collaboration with the Japanese branch of Destination Canada (a Crown Corporation responsible for promoting tourism in Canada), this short is a part of a contest for Japanese citizens involving a trivia quiz. Participants are eligible for prizes, which include travel guides, Aboriginal crafts and Canadian perfumes, with the grand prize being a trip to Canada. The short itself was produced by the same team who worked on Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, one of the biggest animated films in Japanese history: animation itself is attributed to Hisayuki Tabata. Its short length belies the beauty that is Canada, and while Shinkai may have a predisposition towards stories of distance and the like, his animation team’s works outside of film retain all of the quality found in his films. With Your Name in the books, I’ve long expressed a wish for Shinkai and his team to work on a story set outside of Japan: the landscapes and stories of Canada, from the Fur Trade to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the discovery of hot springs in what is now Banff National Park and the gold rush in the Yukon are all worth exploring with the visual fidelity that few can match. Of course, such a project is unlikely, but it nonetheless remains impressive that the same team that created Your Name now lend their talents bringing parts of my homeland to life in anime form, vividly capturing the sights and places with the detail and attention befitting some of the nation’s greatest attractions. As for the contest behind this advertisement, I can say that whoever wins the grand prize is in for a fantastic treat when they visit Canada.