The Infinite Zenith

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus- Review and Reflection after the Manhattan Bunker, New Orleans and Oberkommando Venus Base

“Welcome to the Oberkommando. Population: shitload of assholes. You got my ODIN codes, assholes?” —William “B.J.” Blazkowicz

With a powerful new body, Blazkowicz is sent to a Nazi bunker in Manhattan to retrieve a file on New Orleans and learns that the Nazis have a plan to systemmatically eliminate everyone in a large walled ghetto there. Travelling to New Orleans with the Kreisau Circle and fights his way through the occupying Nazi forces to meet up with Horton Boone and his resistance members. Blazkowicz’s combat efficiency impresses Horton, and after a few drinks, he gets into a shouting match with Horton that culminates with Blazkowicz earning his respect. Horton and his crew agree to join the Kreisau Circle, and Blazkowicz uses a captured Panzerhund to distract the Nazis while Horton’s people evacuate to Eva’s Hammer. He returns to the Eva’s Hammer and uses the nuclear cannon to generate a shockwave that pushes the submarine back into the ocean ahead of the Ausmerzer’s arrival. Back on board, the Kreisau Circle learns that the Ausmerzer was originally built to suppress resistance forces and would be a powerful asset if captured. However, the Ausmerzer’s ODIN defense system must first be disabled, and to this end, Blazkowicz travels to Venus under the guise of an actor auditioning for the role of Terror Billy in a propaganda film. He comes face-to-face with Adolf Hitler himself, although far from being the mastermind of the Nazi’s rise to power, he’s now degenerated physically and mentally, suffering episodes of psychosis and a persistent cough. After a tense audition where Blazkowicz brutally kills a Nazi soldier for a scene, impresses Hitler and is given the part. Blazkowicz later steals away from his quarters, fighting his way through the Venus facility and reaches the Oberkommando Base, located on the blisteringly hot surface of Venus, where he finds the codes for ODIN.

This is where I am so far for The New Colossus, and like The New Order before it, I’ve advanced through the game at a high pace – The New Colossus is engaging in its story, and the colourful cast of characters have been the game’s strongest point, adding much humour to an otherwise grim world. The second half has definitely been a blast, and while perhaps similar to The New Order in essentials (stealing a powerful Nazi war machine to supplement the Kreisau Circle and travelling to a facility in space to acquire codes required to make this endeavour possible), the second half of The New Colossus is coherent, focused and clear as to what Blazkowicz’s goals are. One of the aspects that is absent in The New Colossus are over-the-top boss fights mid-game: so far, the toughest enemies I’ve encountered so far are the Zitadelle robots, which can be easily defeated by making use of an AP round-equipped assault rifle to eliminate its weapons. By comparison, The New Order had Blazkowicz fight the London Monitor in a titanic battle. While the lack of memorable bosses in The New Colossus prior ot the the finale is noticeable, The New Colossus offers an excellent set of Übercommander assassination missions, in which Blazkowicz returns to previously explored districts to kill off a high ranking officier, as well as side-missions that allow him to explore Eva’s Hammer in more detail. The additional world-building provides further depth to the world that Wolfenstein II is set in, and I’ve found it to be superbly enjoyable to revisit old locations with upgraded weapons and contraptions.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After getting a new body, gameplay changes slightly as Blazkowicz regains access to 100 health, but loses the ability to pick up additional armour. Dropped in New York without an air filter or powered armour, the return to Manhattan has Blazkowicz picking up health packs every so often to ensure that he does not succumb to the radiation. Of the three contraptions, I picked the battle walker, which allows Blazkowicz to gain the high ground in combat and access locations that are otherwise out of reach.

  • The other two contraptions are the constrictor harness, which allows Blazkowicz to squeeze into incredibly tight quarters such as vents and openings closer to the ground, and the ram shackles that offer the ability to ram through some doors and boxes. My choice in the battle walker was made because it seems the most fun to use, bringing to mind the Bamboo Boogie Boots from Futurama. The ram shackles are the best suited for a highly aggressive play-style, while the constrictor harness is fantastic for stealth. It is possible to acquire all contraptions and upgrade them, and this is something that I ended up doing.

  • Panzerhunds make a return as mini-bosses of sorts in The New Colossus, although by now, I have no shortage of options in dealing with heavy enemies. The battle walker allowed me to climb onto hard-to-reach places or maintain a superior vantage point over the battlefield. Together with the Hammergewehr, I absolutely massacred the Panzerhund here. I’ve read that the lowest difficulty is the best way to enjoy The New Colossus, but I would have to disagree with this remark: normal difficulty is fine.

  • Collectable concept art, star cards, Nazi Gold and Max’s toys are scattered throughout The New Colossus, and while I’ll pick them up if I find them, my greater priority is on collecting weapon upgrade kits, since those directly affect gameplay. I missed a few during my playthrough, but thanks to the Übercommander missions, I’ve been able to collect everything, allowing me to fully upgrade all of my weapons. The constrictor harness can be found here, and I used it to take out the Übercommander on this map, as well as to help me find the second of the upgrade kits.

  • Here, I find the Kampfpistole to complete my collection of weapons. Returning from The Old Blood, the incarnation in The New Colossus now has a six-round magazine, and while initially appearing to be a downgrade from its predecessor in The Old Blood for firing grenades, the Kampfpistole can be upgraded to fire rocket-propelled grenades. The weapon is based off the Sturmpistole, which was a modified flare gun that was intended to be an infantry-portable anti-tank solution that could further be mounted as an under-barrel attachment, as seen in Brave Witches.

  • Reaching the end of the Manhattan Bunker with the New Orleans folder in hand, there’s a short elevator ride that takes Blazkowicz back to the surface. After returning to Eva’s Hammer, I spent a fair bit of time unlocking Übercommander missions with the enigma codes I amassed. Before heading to New Orleans, I cleared out Manhattan, Roswell and Mesquite: the missions don’t feature auto-saves, and the Übercommanders are armed with the Kampfpistole. On some missions, I was forced to take them head-on and died more times than I cared to count, but I managed to finish the Roswell mission without being detected.

  • Under Nazi occupation, New Orleans is distinctly woebegone, with empty streets and boarded up buildings. For some reason, I’ve inexplicably associated the Deep South with Tango-Victor-Tango, if only for the fact that one of my friends introduced me to the site and Marble Hornets and I began playing Left 4 Dead 2 during the summer days, when the weather up here in Alberta elicits the sort of atmosphere seen in the Deep South. Marble Hornets is set in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Left 4 Dead 2 takes players through the swamps and cities of Louisiana. Thus, playing through New Orleans in The New Colossus elicits memories of summer evenings spent browsing Tango-Victor-Tango and watching Marble Hornets long after research hours ended when I was an undergraduate student.

  • I remember seeing gameplay footage set in New Orleans during demos back during the summer and found myself highly impressed with the visuals. Compared to The New Order, lighting effects and details are slightly more sophisticated, and I originally wondered if my computer would be able to handle The New Colossus. While we are on the topic of Tango-Victor-Tango, the last week was a little hectic after one reader sent me a request to help fact-check for the Hai-Furi page there; they were looking for some assistance in determining which of the technical examples were legitimate and which ones were fallacious. I spent most evenings looking through examples and verifying them in place of my usual relaxing.

  • In the end, I managed to corroborate most of the information save two claims: that methane clathrate (“burning ice”, or “gas hydrate”) deposits were not located anywhere near Japan, as well as the assertion that Akeno, Moeka and Mashiro’s nicknames (“Mike”, “Moka” and “Shiro”) are common cat names in Japan. The former is untrue, as geological surveys have in fact found the presence of some deposits, and the latter is also untrue: a year-and-a-half after Hai-Furi ended, I still haven’t found anything to suggest that Akeno and the others are named after cats beyond one bogus “discussion” whose author claims that “the cat theme is there and intentional, though – it extends to the entirety of the Harekaze crew”.

  • After twelve episodes and two OVAs, cats have a practical, rather than symbolic role in Hai-Furi, so I’m going to leave the discussion there and transition over to talk of dogs, specifically, mechanised ones. Panzerhunds have been trying to kick Blazkowicz’s ass throughout all of The New Order and most of The New Colossus, so when Horton gives Blazkowicz a captured Panzerhund to ride, the game kicks things into twelfth gear. The Panzerhund can pick up armour off defeated enemies to restore its armour pool to prolong its usefulness in combat.

  • It is incredibly satisfying to use the Panzerhund’s flamethrower to incinerate enemies: the flames are so intense they can burn through the Supersoldaten in mere moments, and even explode a heavily armoured vehicle carrying Nazi soldiers. However, all good things must come to an end, and eventually, the path becomes too narrow for the Panzerhund to fit through. After entering an abandoned factory and fighting off a horde of Nazis, Blazkowicz makes his way into the sewers of New Orleans.

  • It turns out that the massive robots I’ve been fighting are called “Zitadelle” (German for “Citadel”). Their armaments allow them effectiveness at all ranges; while they are intimidating with their size and loadout, they can actually be destroyed quite quickly. My preferred tactic is to use the Sturmgewehr’s AP rounds in single-fire mode and blow off the left arm first, limiting its attacks to close range, and then destroy the remaining arm, which causes the entire thing to explode spectacularly. The stealth approach is a bit riskier, involving sneaking up on it and severing both of its fuel lines. Igniting the fuel also allows for the Zitadelle to be destroyed quickly.

  • I originally was not intending on playing The New Colossus entering the weekend – Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter was scheduled to release, and I was aiming to have a post out for the first episode of Hero Chapter out that evening, but we ended up with a recap episode, and so, I ended up taking the time to advance further in The New Colossus. I’ve previously remarked that I have plans to blog about Hero Chapter in an episodic fashion, and while no new episode was aired, I did see that another anime blog had a talk out for the recap, published while I was still at work. If this is the case, I do not think I’ll be able to offer the fastest discussions on Hero Chapter, but I think I can make interesting, insightful posts nonetheless. I will try and see if it is viable to get posts out on the same day that episodes air, although it is possible that Saturdays are when the posts will be published, as well.

  • While the section through the New Orleans sewers is short, they nonetheless bring back memories of the sewers from Enter The Matrix. The last time I completed the game was back in late 2015, and I’ve been meaning to do a pair of talks on the game, but the opportunity has not yet materialised. A Matrix reboot is supposedly in the works, and it could be time for me to take another look at a game that I greatly enjoyed when I was younger, back in the days when dual core processors and high speed internet was just beginning to become commonplace. The ram shackles can be found here for observant players, and folks who missed it can always return to claim it during an Übercommander mission.

  • At this point in The New Colossus, I’d upgraded enough of my weapons so that even Supersoldaten were not much of a threat: the Schockhammer X, when fully upgraded, features a forty-round magazine and can fire three shots with each pull of the trigger. It will annihilate almost anything downrange, and after I cleared out the area here, I found another weapon upgrade kit inside the house, in a small room to the left. This is one of the upgrade kits that are more out of the way, and in my experience, was the second most hidden one.

  • Adolf Hitler is depicted in the game, and far from the powerful dictator who commanded the Third Reich, the Führer now is a wretch of a man, troubled with a failing body and neurodegenerative disease. Critics have praised this particular direction, suggesting that it’s the perfect caricature of one of the most vile individuals calling themselves a leader in history, and for this, I find that this particular incarnation of the Führer is ill-suited to be the antagonist of any sequels, being relegated to a pathetic and somewhat comedic role. There’s an easter egg here for folks who are inquisitive.

  • The Oberkommando base on Venus is a familiar concept, being similar to the Moon base from The New Order. However, the different environments mean that the Venus base and Moon base are completely different from one another. The presence of a Nazi facility on Venus also attests to just how much of a technological advantage they have over the world, and to have constructed a base on Venus, of all places, is a nontrivial feat: consider that we’ve not returned to the moon since the last Apollo XVII mission in 1972.

  • The interior of the Venus facility feels a little bit like the average space museum, with all of the surface relief models and satellite replicas. The page quote here comes from a point during this mission when Blazkowicz closes in on the Oberkommando center, bringing to mind his comments on the Nazi moon landing in The New Order. Present in the new Wolfenstein games since 2014, I’ve been a big fan of the random quips that Blazkowicz will make during the course of a mission.

  • The engineering in the Venus base is incredibly detailed, and really gives the sense that it was designed to withstand the extreme pressure and heat on the surface. Hallways are composed entirely of steel and look like they’re designed to withstand high pressures, with HVAC components visible here and there to hint at how much resources are directed towards keeping building interiors cool. Windows are small, compared to the large windows and high ceilings of the lunar base seen in The New Order. It’s apparent that Machine Games investigated architecture suitable for conditions on Venus, and the interior of the facility screams Venus, with its yellows, reds and tans, compared to the greys, whites and blues of the moon base.

  • At its surface, Venus has an average temperature of 462°C and a pressure of 92 atm. The atmosphere is largely carbon dioxide, with traces of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen. Precipitation takes the form of sulfuric acid, which is highly corrosive and can cause severe burns. In The New Colossus, Blazkowicz dons a special suit in order to traverse the facility’s exterior, and while it is not implausible for a suit to withstand extremities of temperature, I find its construction to be most impressive, given that it can stand up to Venus’s atmosphere, which exerts an equivalent of the pressure found in the oceans down at a depth of one kilometer.

  • One of the nuances about Venus is that Blazkowicz must be mindful of the amount of coolant remaining in his suit: it depletes over time, forcing him to resupply at special stations. Running out completely results in a painful death, but it seems that moving around at high speeds and taking damage in combat thankfully does not appear to have an impact on the coolant supply. It is possible to instantly restock on coolant by entering a building, and while it can be easy to neglect coolant levels mid-combat, The New Colossus provides cues for players: Blazkowicz will remark that it’s a good idea to resupply or that it’s getting hot when he’s low, and an alarm will go off if levels are critical.

  • In The Old Blood, the Kampfpistole could not be dual-wielded, so when they made it an option to pair the Kampfpistole with another weapon and even use two at once, there is the possibility for limitless destruction, allowing Blazkowicz to reduce entire groups of enemies to puddles of blood and chunks of meat. Fully upgraded, the Kampfpistoles can put out six rockets at a time when dual-wielded, with each Kampfpistole firing three rounds at a time for massive damage.

  • This ladder goes up a shaft leading to the next section, and it is here that the best-hidden weapon upgrade kit is located: it’s found halfway up the shaft on a ledge adjacent to the ladder and can only be accessed by climbing to the top and hopping back down. There are a total of twenty one weapon upgrade kits in The New Colossus, and while I’ve heard of players farming Übercommander missions to acquire more, one only needs twenty one to fully upgrade every weapon. The last upgrade kit is found in one such mission, and can’t be missed, being on the way to the Übercommander.

  • Admittedly, the exteriors on Venus bring to mind the terrain and landscapes of Mars in DOOM: this is the closest that Wolfenstein and DOOM will come; while the games original incarnations were quite similar in mechanics, their narratives differed greatly, and both games contributed to the development of modern shooters.

  • Scattered throughout the Venus base are large spherical fuel tanks that explode when shot. A well-placed explosion can eliminate an entire group of enemies at once, earning players environment kills that contribute to a perk that reduces explosive damage taken.

  • The Übergewehr is the ultimate weapon in The New Colossus, being more or less the Wolfenstein incarnation of DOOM‘s BFG 9000. Like the BFG, it is so powerful that it can reduce entire groups of enemies and even Supersoldaten into unrecognisable piles of meat and blood. However, unlike the BFG 9000, Blazkowicz cannot carry the weapon in his inventory, experiences reduced movement speeds while wielding it (like all other heavy weapons), and there aren’t any powerful bosses to use it on. It must be charged before firing, and creates a massive energy sphere that vapourises anything it touches. The scene where players are presented an opportunity to try it out is also reminiscent of DOOM, where players can try their newly-acquired BFG 9000 on a room full of possessed.

  • As I wander deeper into the Oberkommando facility, I’ll also take this time to remark that its been a bit more than a week since the Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??: Dear My Sister OVA began screening in Japan. With the home release (and correspondingly, my review) likely to come in Spring 2018, I remark that discussions on the OVA has been fortuitously light. With this in mind, at least one English-speakers have already seen it, having reserved tickets ahead of time and traveled to Japan with the sole purpose of seeing the film. While one might perhaps admire their tenacity and disposable income, I simply don’t have the time to do something of a similar scale. So, for folks wondering when I’ll write about Dear My Sister, the answer to this is that it’ll be close to the home release: ordering BDs is rather more economical than spending an excess of two thousand Canadian for one 50-minute long OVA.

  • It’s actually a bit surprising to learn that I’ve spent roughly fifteen hours in The New Colossus and I’ve still got quite a bit to do before I finish the game: I spent most of the past weekend in The New Colossus. Despite having spent most of Saturday out looking around for a new tree top ornament with LED lights, I nonetheless managed to get a good way into the Oberkommando mission after a hearty dinner of fried chicken and fries with a nacho salad to start – it’s always satisfying to spend a Saturday evening gaming following a crunchy and flavourful fried chicken, which seems the perfect accompaniment for shooters (after washing and drying the dishes, of course).

  • Contrary to complaints about things on Steam reviews, the amount of content in The New Colossus is nothing to sneeze at, and it looks like that I might not be able to finish The New Colossus‘s campaign and Übercommander missions before the hopefully upcoming Steam Black Friday sale, where I’m looking to pick up The Division. I’ve mentioned this in passing previously, and while I didn’t think the value was there when the game was going for 35 CAD during last year’s Winter Sale, the game has seen discounts to the tune of 60 percent off, which corresponds with a price tag of 28 CAD, which is rather more reasonable. Coupled with the fact that this time of year, leading up towards Christmas, ties in nicely with the atmosphere in The Division, it feels like the time is right for me to experience a game I’ve not played since the open beta back in February of last year.

  • As for Star Wars: Battlefront II, I’m still on the rocks about whether or not I’ll be picking it up. The crisis with the loot crates notwithstanding, the gameplay looks mechanically solid, and the Christmas season seems the time to be playing a Star Wars game. I’ll make a decision on Battlefront II closer to The Last Jedi‘s première, when the game will likely be sold at a discounted price. Back in Wolfenstein, I’ve upgraded all of my weapons and have all of the contraptions upgraded as well, meaning that I’m more or less ready to roll onwards and finish the final mission on board the Ausmerzer. I will be returning once I complete The New Colossus to do a final impressions on the game overall. In the meantime, Hero Chapter‘s first episode is set to air this Friday, so I’m looking forwards to seeing what this entails.

From a technical perspective, The New Colossus is an incredibly fun game that definitely has earned its place in the sun as a worthy predecessor to The New Order. The biggest strengths in the game lie in the world-building, which expands upon what was seen in the first game, and the cut-scenes were as entertaining to watch as the shooter elements were to play. Notably, The New Colossus is able to strike a balance between comedic and serious moments more so than its predecessors – finally, we have a game that feels consistent with the marketing and advertising, and the humour interspersed throughout the game conveys a sense of hope that, with Blazkowicz and his raggedy-ass bunch of resistance members, there really is a possibility to liberate the world and return liberty to its people. The New Order ended on a somber note; defeating Deathshead did not stop the Nazi stranglehold over the world, and similarly, The Old Blood concluded with Blazkowicz joining Fergus for the ill-fated run on Deathshead’s compound. Both games had easy-going, hilarious advertising campaigns, and the games themselves left me feeling a bit melancholy, knowing that all of Blazkowicz’s effort notwithstanding, his dream of ending the war and settling down to start a family would not be realised yet. The change in atmosphere in The New Colossus, seemingly irreverent, actually gives the impression that the world Blazkowicz dreams of building might not be an impossibility after all.

Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things.” —Kenneth Branagh

Mayu and Shiho initially find it difficult to act in their assigned characters for the television drama “The Dreaming Duo”, where Mitsuki and Yoko are share dreams and come to realise their love for the same guy. However, with inspiration, Mayu begins to act more fluidly for Yoko’s role, inspiring Shiho to do the same as Mitsuki. While the two agree on their relationship being a strictly professional one, the distance between the two lessens as the two work on their drama, which finishes shooting on a high note. Later, Junko arranges for a Sendai tour with WUG to inspire local fans. A scheduling conflict prevents Minami from attending, and during a performance that evening, Nanami steps in to substitute for Minami. While she falls on stage, her actions earn her endearment from the audience. After WUG announces their plans to release a new album, Ayumi gets lost at the inn and comes across WUG’s zoo costumes. Mayu accidentally spills tomato juice on one and assumes it’s Yoshino inside, deciding that it’s best to visit the hot springs and wash it off before staining occurs. Ayumi manages to escape, but is inspired by Mayu’s words about idols and their duty to bring smiles to their audiences. The next morning, she tells Mayu of her intentions to become an idol and Mayu wishes her luck. This is where things stand at the halfway point in New Chapter!, a series that has managed to retain its charm owing to its sincere narrative and honest characters.

The past three episodes predominantly deal with Mayu; she’s the most experienced of WUG members and, despite being one of the more soft-spoken members, has numerous insights into what expectations are in entertainment. This sort of maturity and professionalism initially caused her to butt heads with the other WUG members during the first season of Wake Up, Girls!, but time has allowed even the taciturn Mayu to open up. By New Chapter!, Mayu is sharing how she feels about her schedule and is expressive about concerns she may have with her duties, in turn allowing the others to support her in their own way. Similarly, having recovered her sense of purpose as an idol, Mayu sees their duty as putting smiles on the faces of their audiences, and that the WUG’s presence can be projected by each and every member. Capable of reassuring others in WUG, Mayu’s definitely been a source of inspiration to those around her, and also outside of the group; Ayumi is star-struck whenever she meets Mayu in person, and a part of this is that Mayu is remarkably kind, humble and approachable. Having found her joy in being an idol once again because of her time in WUG, Mayu is able to put her heartfelt feelings into her performances that, together with the others in WUG, have allowed the group to retain a loyal following, and from an external perspective, these same aspects within the anime have allowed Wake Up, Girls! to similarly retain a loyal following in reality.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • For the record, if The Dreaming Duo were real, I would likely watch it. In this drama, the normally-quiet Mayu plays the spirited, energetic Yoko, who is on the basketball team, and Shiho, who usually is more forward with her opinions, is Mitsuki, a reserved student fond of the arts. The roles are opposite of their characters, and while they initially have difficulty adjusting, the directors notice the improvement once both begin empathising with their respective characters.

  • The dynamic between Mayu and Shiho is similar to that of Mythbusters‘ Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman: Shiho outright tells Mayu that their working together will not be a sign that their relationship has mended, to which Mayu accepts. I was reading an article about how Savage and Hyneman do not get along with one another outside of work hours, but nonetheless are successful in working together as professionals. Like Savage and Hyneman, Shiho and Mayu respect one another’s work ethic, follow similar processes in getting things done, and value getting the job done well over their own egos.

  • Mayu’s busy schedule means that she misses preparing for breakfast on at least one occasion, but here, her teammates step up to the plate and help her out. The dynamics amongst WUG are give-and-take, and in between her work on the set, Mayu also participates in the other activities that WUG typically engage in.

  • I’m not sure what I’m looking at here; one of the stills shows WUG recoiling from shock and horror after touching something unknown for a television programme. This sort of show is a bit less common on this side of the planet: when I was in Japan, a great number of their channels were running game and talk shows. Japanese shows tend to be a bit flashier and text heavy, giving a much more excited sense compared to similar  shows in North America, which by comparison feel a bit more austere.

  • Shiho is momentarily recalled to I-1 Club when Moka sustains an injury, but as it turns out, the injury was relatively minor, allowing her to return to her usual duties. As the two embrace their roles further, they begin gaining a feel for the characters and occasionally offer suggestions to the directors to create a more natural scene. While the directors are initially appalled, the scriptwriter approves of the changes.

  • When the principal photography is complete for The Dreaming Duo, Mayu has a chance to speak with one of the project’s managers, who admits that the decision to cast Mayu and Shiho were originally motivated by a want to draw in more viewers using well-known names, but they ended up getting more than expected through both girls’ dedication towards their roles.

  • Ayumi, Itsuka and Otome find themselves tiring out on a walk for their physical education class and begin losing resolve upon hearing the distance remaining in the walk, but when Ayumi learns of WUG’s plans to do a bus tour of Sendai, Ayumi immediately gains a second wind. Of the three, it seems that Ayumi is the most interested in WUG, and she runs into Mayu herself while playing an extra in The Dreaming Duo.

  • Minami is tied up with a food show and is absent from the proceedings for most of the WUG Sendai tour. Kouhei does his best to keep the show running, and the day begins smoothly. On board the bus, Ayumi and her friends encounter some high school students from Tokyo who’ve become fans of Minami, and they quickly hit it off with one another. The remainder of the folks on this tour are male fans of WUG, and I will note here that, while their antics are a riot, I usually do not feature the vociferous WUG fans from the family restaurant because there’s not much I have to comment about them.

  • The first event on the WUG Sendai tour is a SCAVENGER HUNT type event, where participants must find each of the girls, dressed up as an animal, and collect a stamp from them. Each of the girls end up encountering difficulties in striking a balance between being out in the open and being well-hidden enough so the event is fun for the participants. As an aside, Wake Up, Girls! Zoo! was a spin-off that I ended up watching a ways back. Light-hearted and fun, each episode was a riot, and I also greatly enjoyed the theme song, as well.

  • Ayumi grows weak-kneed when coming face-to-face with Mayu herself. Her tendency to be star-struck has hilarious consequences within New Chapter!. Today’s post marks a three-streak, one of the longest I’ve had this year; in spite of a weekend packed with activities, I somehow managed to get a post out each day. Of course, this pattern won’t be the norm: posts take at least two to three hours to write, and this is why I won’t be writing about Far Cry 4 as of yet, even though I finished the game just yesterday.

  • Today’s events included going out for dim sum and then taking a short walk under the warmer weather: things have warmed up a little over the past week. The last time I had dim sum at this particular restaurant was back in February, and while dim sum appears unassuming, it is quite substantial – we ordered the usual suspects today (炸蝦角, 蝦餃, 燒賣, 鳳爪, 叉燒包 and 腸粉), plus a sticky fried rice. I’m especially fond of 炸蝦角 (jyutping “zaa3 haa1 gok3”), a deep-fried shrimp that goes great with mayonnaise. Dim sum is, in the words of Adam Richman, a Hong Kong institution, and that one can get Dim Sum in Calgary rivalling the quality of Hong Kong Dim Sum is downright amazing.

  • I’ve seen this technique used before in the Hai-Furi OVAs, and of late, constraints in New Chapter!‘s animation budget have become quite apparent. There are photograph-like scenes such as this, re-use of footage seen earlier and numerous stills while the characters are engaged in conversation. In spite of obvious shortfalls in animation, New Chapter! more than delivers the spirit and fun; from a certain point of view, the choppy animation can be seen as a bit of a visual metaphor for the rough-around-the-edges-but-sincere nature of WUG.

  • WUG performs First Rate Smile, a song that Tasuka wrote for them as their debut piece. Upbeat and energetic, the song is later given to I-1 Club to perform, as WUG is tasked with an even tougher song (Seven Girls’ War, the opening song). For the longest time, First Rate Smile could only be heard in the I-1 Club incarnation, although with the Wake Up, Best! album that released in March 2015, a full year after the first season aired, audiences finally had a chance to listen to the WUG version of First Rate Smile.

  • Upon seeing the disappointment in the audience at Minami’s absence, WUG decide to ask Nanami to perform in lieu of Minami on account of her sharing a similar stature, but Nanami stumbles and reveals to the audience that she’s not Minami. Far from drawing the audience’s ire, this action results in the audience cheering for Nanami, as well. Soon after, the real McCoy arrives, with Junko having exhorted transportation crew to get them to the hotel ASAP.

  • At the time of writing, WUG’s real-world equivalent have released numerous albums for the music of Wake Up, Girls!, and performed at several venues where they became a sleeper hit: their real world performers seem to embrace adversity, and as one article on ANN succintly puts it, the group turns disaster into dreams. Born of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, the project was initially to help with rebuilding Sendai. It was on the verge of failure and turned to recruiting voice talent in the Sendai area. The experiences and tribulations that the production team saw fed into Wake Up, Girls!, and in retrospective, it would seem that the reason why Wake Up, Girls! is so authentic and genuine is because it is inspired by real events.

  • New Chapter! is no Murder on the Orient Express, a recent film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic – Miyu finds Mayu after she accidentally spills tomato juice on Yoshino’s polar bear costume, a consequence of Ayumi hiding inside it after getting lost, and the girls must promptly remove it before the stain becomes a permanent feature. The reason why tomato juice is so difficult to remove is because of the pigment lycopene, a long-chain non-polar hydrocarbon. These molecules are hydrophobic and will cling to other similar non-polar molecules, such as those making up plastic containers or the fibres in clothing.

  • The guide to removing tomato juice stains are numerous, and the precise method will depend on how old the stain is. In the case of a fresh stain, the combination of water and detergent will be sufficient. After Mayu takes Ayumi to the baths, her fear of getting discovered leads her to hide. By a stroke of luck, the other WUG members arrive, and in the chaos, Ayumi manages to escape, leaving Mayu to wonder what really happened, but before she gets clear, Ayumi overhears Mayu speaking to the others about what being an idol means.

  • Future assignments will leave the girls with less time spent performing together, leading Miyu to feel depressed, but when Mayu reminds everyone that they’re WUG regardless of where they are, spirits lift considerably. One of the things about being an idol, then is also being able to help one’s teammates and oneself smile: if the point of the business is to give a bit of happiness to viewers, then those doing so must first learn to find their own happiness. Mayu is able to appreciate this, and her presence in WUG is a reassuring one.

  • The next morning, WUG participate in signing autographs for their fans. The tour ends up being a successful one, and it seems that Mayu is quite unaware that Ayumi was responsible for the previous evening’s escapade. Seizing the moment, Ayumi declares that she wishes to be an idol – from our perspective, we roughly know what idols in Wake Up, Girls! must experience. I’ve heard that Ayumi and her friends will form their own group, “Run, Girls, Run!”: their presence in New Chapter! seem to be about the positive impacts that idols can have as role models.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but ever since Wake Up, Girls! first season, Mayu’s been my favourite character. While still relatively off the beaten path, discussions about Wake Up, Girls! that I’ve seen have been quite positive. Time is moving at breakneck speed: we’re very nearly halfway through November now, and we’re rolling into December very soon. This anime season has passed by quickly, and I’ve found the other shows I’m watching to be enjoyable. With this post out the gates, I will be turning my attention towards Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter now – I’m curious to see both whether or not I can make an episodic review work, as well as what Hero Chapter entails.

With the next major goal being the production of a full WUG album, I’m looking forwards to seeing what directions New Chapter! will be taking. By this point in time, WUG has become accustomed to truths within the industry, but their cumulative experiences allow them to appropriately address whatever challenges come their way. The togetherness that is central to WUG’s strengths during performances have become somewhat of a crutch for WUG, and having foreseen this, Junko and Youhei have arranged for the girls to perform and work independently to increase their self-reliance. At the halfway point, this appears to be effective: the girls have definitely become much more resilient and adaptive. Mayu similarly reminds everyone that WUG will be WUG as long as everyone believes in one another, regardless of whether their working alone or performing together. While where all of these lessons and learnings will end up remains open for speculation, one thing is likely to be true: WUG will definitely find a way to overcome adversity that will invariably come their way as the series moves into its final episodes, and it will be enjoyable to watch how WUG goes about solving problems in with their own unique approaches.

Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari (Napping Princess: The Story of the Unknown Me): A Review and Reflection

“I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.” ―Elon Musk

The Kingdom of Heartland is entirely driven by vehicle manufacture, and the heiress, Ancien, is given a magical tablet that allows her to bestow life into mechanical creations. She encounters a pirate named Peach when a Colossus attacks, helping him drive off the Colossus when the nation’s war machines, the Engineheads, fail. It turns out that this is a dream that Kokone has – she is a high school student who lives with her father, Momotarō, a skilful but taciturn mechanic who draws the attention of agents from the corporation Shijima Motors, who accuse him of stealing company secrets. Watanabe, oneof Shijima’s advisors, arrives to retrieve the tablet, and when Momotarō refuses, he is taken in for questioning. Kokone manages to recover her father’s tablet with help from Morio, an old friend. After dozing off and dreaming that her motorcycle can fly, Kokone awakens to find herself in Osaka. She makes her way to Tokyo with the intent of meeting with Isshin Shijima, the chairman of Shijima Motors, and while sleeping along the way, Kokone realises that her father’s story about Heartland was inspired by her mother, Ikumi. Upon meeting Isshin, Kokone learns that her mother had developed self-driving software but was denied permission to continue with the project. In Heartland, the Colossus attacks again, but Ancien manages to upload a spell into the remaining Enginehead, which Bewan (the King’s advisor and the parallel to Watanabe) had planned to use to usurp the King. In a pitched fight, the Colossus is destroyed, but Bewan attempts to destroy Heartland. Peach flies the Enginehead into lower orbit to eliminate the remains of the Colossus, and back in reality, Kokone finds herself saved from certain death when her self-driving motor cycle arrives, fulfilling Ikumi’s promise to be there for her family. The company’s contribution to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics later progresses smoothly, and Isshin spends more time with Kokone and her father. Released in March 2017, Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari (Hirune Hime for brevity) is an unusual fantasy-adventure whose draw is its seamless transitions between Heartland and reality, resulting in a highly unique film that ended up being remarkably enjoyable to watch.

Beautifully rendered and presented, Heartland is a fantastical world of great scale that emphasises its fictional nature. Sequences set in Heartland were a thrill to watch, capturing a setting that is simultaneously familiar and different to reality. That Hirune Hime flits between the two suggest that for their initial differences, the Heartland that Momotarō created for Kokone and the real world are not so dissimilar. The blending of the two worlds means that, while there are some gaps within Hirune Hime, the overall thematic elements are never disrupted; Hirune Hime presents its themes when the narrative is set in the real world, and in the film, two messages stand out. The first is that familial love comes about in different ways, evident when Kokone realises that, contrary to her initial resentment towards her father for not reflecting on what Ikumi was like, he’d created an entire world to capture Ikumi’s character. This suggests that, while he is greatly impacted by Ikumi’s death, he nonetheless loves Kokone and thus, designs a story, a fairy tale of sorts to both give Kokone an idea of what kind of person her mother had been, without forcing himself to recount his painful experiences. The second aspect of Hirune Hime deals with the importance of accepting and valuing technological advancements – Ikumi had long foreseen a future with self-driving cars and wishes to pursue it, but when her father, Isshin, rejects her proposal, his company ultimately finds itself at the edge of a PR disaster years later, when Shijima Motors is tasked with showing the world how far Japan has come during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Because their own developments had not been fruitful, Watanabe resorts to unethical means of fulfilling his goal, with the aim of taking over the company. Technology is an ever-present part of Hirune Hime, as seen through Ancien’s (and Momotarō’s) tablet: that much of the film’s progression is driven by what has become a commonplace technology is a reminder of how much things have advanced, and illustrates that a refusal to accept and adopt new technology can have detrimental consequences in the long run.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The soundtrack of Hirune Hime and the unusual combination of flatter character colouration creates a compelling opening; the music in Hirune Hime is composed by Yoko Shimomura, whom I know best for her video game soundtracks. The soundtrack in Hirune Hime features a predominantly classical component reminiscent of Beethoven and Chopin, which is par the course for her usual style, although Shimomura also utilises different styles in her game soundtracks for a diverse aural experience.

  • It’s been around seven years since tablets became popular: when Apple introduced the iPad back in 2010, the gadget was regraded as a curiosity, a bigger iPhone. However, seven years of progress has turned the tablet into a powerful productivity and entertainment platform. In Hirune Hime, Ancien receives a tablet that she uses to bring life to mechanised creations, although for her actions, she’s imprisoned in a glass tower.

  • While trying to retrieve her tablet, Ancien is spotted and is forced to navigate the exterior of the glass tower. It typifies the scale of construction in Heartland, and one can only imagine what it would have been like to experience this film in the theater: the movie originally released in Japan in March, and American theatres screened this during September this year. In spite of this, discussions on this film have been minimal, and I imagine that while I may view the film favourably, not everyone will feel the same way about it.

  • The film will switch between the real world and Heartland. Initially, these come across as being quite disjointed and seemingly unrelated, but as the film progresses, the events happening in one space begin correlating with the other in a clever manner. The connections are not explicit, forcing viewers to draw the connections themselves. Even early on in the film, similarities in things such as Joy (Kokone’s stuffed animal), the tablet and the motorcycle “Heart”, audiences are reminded that the worlds are more closely related than they appear.

  • Kokone is voiced by Mitsuki Takahata, an actress who primarily performs in live-action television dramas and has done some voice work in animated movies previously. She brings to the table a much more natural-sounding voice (as opposed to the likes of Ayane Sakura, Inori Minase and Mai Fuchigami); there’s a right time and place for different voices, and having the sort of voices from GochiUsa or Kiniro Mosiac in a film would be quite off-putting.

  • The Colossus and Engineheads bring to mind Pacific Rim: I saw the film only quite recently, and have heard that Pacific Rim: Uprising will be screened somewhere in 2018. There are a lot of elements that Hirune Hime cover, from the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and self-driving vehicles to consumer electronics. All of these aspects are touched on briefly, and some folks consider them to be shoehorned in; Hirune Hime covers quite a bit of turf, but I never found these to be too distracting from the film overall.

  • In Heartland, Peach and Ancien meet for the first time when Ancien decides to assist. Peach is using what appears to be the M79 grenade launcher, and manages to blow off the Colossus’ limb, which it starts regenerating. While conceptually similar to a kaiju, the Colossus is perhaps more closely related to Peter Jackson’s interpretation of  J.R.R. Tolkein’s Balrogs, fire spirits that were corrupted Maiar: in The Fellowship of The Ring, the Balrog Durin’s Bane appeared as a gargantuan being composed of magma, roars like an erupting volcano and emitted molten rock when struck.

  • In the film’s synopsis, Kokone is described as someone who can “fall asleep at will”, but Hirune Hime suggests otherwise. After returning home to find it deserted, Kokone decides to kip for a bit, returning to Heartland in the process. When she reawakens, she recongises Watanabe and makes to hide after realising what he’s after. Interior details in Hirune Hime are of a generally high quality and convey that lived-in sense.

  • Back in Heartland, Ancien introduces Peace to Heart; given life long ago, Heart can transform into a humanoid vehicle on command, and here, the vivid blue of a summer day can be seen. I’ve long found myself being drawn to anime with vivid blue skies, and this is actually what prompted my decision to watch Strike Witches; similarly, the reason why Yuyushiki reminds me of summer lies in the fact that the anime effectively captures what summer feels like.

  • Bewan arrives to requisition Momotarō’s tablet, the source of the rising action within Hirune Hime. In Heartland, it’s the source of Ancien’s power that he seeks to control, whereas in the real world, Watanabe is seeking to take control of the software that Momotarō had helped complete. Either way, Peach/Momotarō are arrested and held for questioning. From his manner to his appearance, Watanabe and Bewan is designed to be unlikable.

  • Back in the real world, Kokone manages to make off with Watanabe’s bags before he can check into his flight, escaping into the night with Morio’s assistance. The airport sequence brings back memories of when I was at the Rennes International Airport, which was a smaller airport that only opens at five in the morning. We had arrived early that morning, and I had temporarily managed to fight off a stomach bug at the time. The flight back from Paris was a long one, and I subsequently fell ill again after returning home, but the conference itself was quite fun. As of now, I’m still getting paper invitations in my old university inbox.

  • Morio himself enters the dream and pilots Heart through the night sky. Fantastical and visually stunning, both Heartland and the real world are rendered in a spectacular manner. The suspension bridge seen near Kokone’s home becomes a vast structure rising above the clouds; their night flight brings to mind the most famous scene from the 1982 film ET: I’ve not seen this film despite its renown, but even I’m familiar with the oft-parodied scene where Elliot and the alien fly across the night sky.

  • Upon arriving in Heartland, the vast cityscape is visible below. In this fictional world, the entire economy is directed towards vehicle manufacture, and bumper-to-bumper traffic is an epidemic. Economies in reality exist because of the need for commodities and skills to be exchanged, so a world where all expertise is invested in vehicle manufacture for a local population is not one that is sustainable for the long term. With this being said, such issues can be ignored in the context of evidently fictional worlds.

  • The next morning, Kokone and Morio find themselves in Osaka; in the real world, Heart had engaged an autopilot and safely delivered the two to Osaka, but ran out of gas. While audiences initially are left wondering just how Heartland and the real world are connected, it turns out that the transitions between the two are really just narrative elements, and quite unrelated. Later, Kokone and Morio realise they’re short on cash, but seemingly through magic, the necessary resources are provided for her to travel back to Tokyo.

  • It turns out that some staff from Shijima Motors have been assisting Kokone, as they have access to the same message board that Kokone’s been typing into. Here is a close up of the bento that train staff provide for her and Morio. Even at lower resolutions, the Japanese aesthetic is visible here, including a piece of haran: these plastic strips of grass are seen in boxed lunches and while mistakenly assumed to be for decoration, the actual purpose is to prevent some foods from coming into contact to preserve their flavour and longevity.

  • Morio is seen operating a VR headset throughout Hirune Hime, and unlike the full-dive headsets of Sword Art OnlineHirune Hime more conservatively suggests that VR headsets will remain bulky and cumbersome, similar to products available on the market, albeit in a more sophisticated format (Morio’s fingers suggest a virtual keyboard). En route back to Tokyo, Kokone falls asleep: the ride on the shinkansen is two and a half hours, with tickets starting from 13620 Yen (roughly 150 CAD) for a one-way trip.

  • Ancien manages to infiltrate one of the Engineheads and uses her magic to automate it, allowing it to perform much more effectively than previously possible, although the operators soon catch on and order the engines to be shut down. Ancien’s tenacity comes through; she exits the vehicle and sets off to manually re-light the engines. While she’s successful, she falls off the Enginehead, and is caught at the last second by Momotarō.

  • Through this particular dream, Kokone learns that Ancien is actually based off her mother, rather than herself, and the story suggests that Momotarō had tried to save Ikumi but failed, damaging his tablet in the process. This realisation leads Kokone to appreciate her father’s efforts to take care of her, and with renewed resolve, she sets off for Shijima Motor’s headquarters in Tokyo.

  • Kokone’s attempts to speak with Isshin fail when secretaries do not believe her identity. I note that for this review, I’ve opted to stick with thirty screenshots for brevity’s sake – I have not covered every conceivable topic that can come of this film to keep the post manageable in size. One of the aspects of Hirune Hime that I found to be an indicator of the film having focus is the fact that familial love is one of the main themes within the movie, and Kokone’s friendship with Morio remain merely thus, leaving the film free to focus on its central messages without unnecessarily introducing complexity.

  • The locations of Hirune Hime are likely accurate to their real-world counterparts: Chairman Shijima looks out at the scenery surrounding Rainbow Bridge on Odaiba Island. Odaiba Park and the Sixth Daiba are visible here: the latter was the setting for Koji Suzuki’s Solitary Isle, a short story in his Dark Water anthology. I’ve found that horror stories in written form tend to be a lot easier to enjoy, if only for the fact that there are no visual or audio cues that impact my internal sense of unease or dread.

  • In spite of Kokone not having introduced herself properly, Isshin begins telling her the story of Ikumi and her role at Shijima Motors. His resemblance to Heartland’s King is no coincidence, and I imagine that he recognises the doll in Kokone’s hands immediately, hence being able to recognise her as his granddaughter.

  • Passionate, devoted and brilliant, Ikumi was the first to propose Shijima Motors in exploring self-driven vehicles, but when turned down, she left the company and later married Momotarō, helping him work on a perfected version of the software. This is what Watanabe has been coveting, since he intends to replace Isshin as the chairman of Shijima Motors, and his success with self-driving vehicles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will pave the way for his succession.

  • The final incursion into Heartland is done without warning and the revelation that Bewan was planning to betray the King roughly correspond with events of the real world. The chaotic nature of things hints at the climax of Hirune Hime arriving, and with the Colossus arriving to wreck havoc, the King resolves to step out onto the battlefield. Bewan’s betrayal is dealt with, after he reveals his intention to replace the King by using a special Enginehead to defeat the Colossus. Here, Kokone appears as herself, no longer seeing herself as Ancien.

  • Peach pilots the Enginehead and destroys the Colossus once and for all in a titanic battle, but Bewan manages to run a curse that threatens to destroy Heartland. This final battle seemed quite disjointed from the remainder of the film: it’s the one place in Hirune Hime that does not seem to relate to events in the real world.

  • Ultimately, Peach realises that there is another direction he can take to defeat the Colossus’ remnants; the remaining Enginehead engages a flight system and launches into the atmosphere, taking the Colossus’ fragments with it. This section is likely imagery for Momotarō coming to an understanding with his internal struggles about whether or not he should give up the algorithms for the self-driving vehicles concept that he and Ikumi had previously developed.

  • The outcome of whether or not Kokone is able to rescue Peach is left ambiguous, and while the messages behind the imagery of the final scenes in Heartland elude me, I cannot deny that they are not visually impressive, especially with respect to the swarms of what remains of the Colossus.

  • Owing to how chaotic things are towards the ending of Hirune Hime, how Kokone got into this situation is likely an exercise left to the viewer’s imagination. The gravity of this situation brings to mind Rick and Morty‘s Concerto, where Rick and Morty find themselves tied to a massive piano and facing certain death. While no Jaguar comes to save Momotarō and Kokone, the autonomous bike, Heart, makes a timely arrival, sparing the two from death.

  • It is this moment that led me to pick a quote from Elon Musk: a well-known entrepreneur and engineer, Musk has been leading developments in sustainable electric vehicles and autonomous systems for his Tesla line of vehicles. A firm advocate of innovation, Musk’s quote definitely applies to Momotarō and his continued love for Ikumi leading him to both continue her vision and care for Kokone in her stead.

  • After the Olympics, Isshin spends more time with his granddaughter and son-in-law on a peaceful summer’s afternoon. Momotarō continues working in his shop, declining Isshin’s offer for a position with Shijima Motors, and with this, Hirune Hime comes to an end. This marks the end of yet another anime film I’ve written about this year, which has seen the likes of Kimi no Na WaKoe no KatachiKono Sekai no Katasumi ni and Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale. It’s been a fantastic year for anime movies, with each film delivering enjoyment in a unique manner.

  • With this post at an end, I leave readers with another beautiful screenshot of summer in Japan, and will conclude this post by looking into the future: Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter begins this week, and I will be doing an episodic review of this anime. Tomorrow is a bank holiday, so I’ll also be looking to catch up with Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! and present my thoughts at the halfway point. In addition, I’m moving quite swiftly through Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and I’m locking in plans to pick up The Division once the Steam Black Friday sale is live.

The sum of a curious story that combines a fantastical setting with the real world, current issues and ideas, solid animation and artwork, and a fantastic soundtrack results in Hirune Hime being an entertaining watch. While it’s definitely not perfect (especially closer to the ending, where some leaps exist in the story as things pick up), the film overall presents a well-crafted story and solid thematic elements that kept me wondering what is to happen next with both Ancien and Kokone. Altogether, Hirune Hime earns a recommendation; it is impressive of how Heartland was presented to correspond with both people and events in the real world. Only by watching both does one gain a sense of who Momotarō, Ikumi, Isshin and Watanabe are within the context of Hirune Hime, and it was immensely rewarding to put these pieces together as a consequences of the two narratives being woven together to augment the viewer’s understanding of what is going on, even fi there are some shortcomings with this approach towards the film’s end. In conjunction with the humour arising from Kokone’s transitions between Heartland and reality, as well as how her friend, Morio, comes into Heartland, Hirune Hime is quite simply, fun; I was immersed for the whole of its runtime, and such films exemplify that stories can definitely be enjoyable and thought-provoking even if their setting is that of a colourful, vividly-portrayed world.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus At The Halfway Point

“You take freedom away from the American people, you’re playing with fire. And I intend to pour some gasoline!” ―William J. Blazkowicz

After reaching the remains of Manhattan, Blazkowicz makes his way to the Empire State Building to link up with the American resistance elements. The trek through the crumbling ruins of New York is an arduous one; Blazkowicz fights off hordes of patrolling Nazis and even a massive robot. After meeting up with Grace Walker and Norman “Super Spesh” Caldwell, Blazkowicz clears off the area of Nazi reinforcements before flying back with Grace’s resistance team to Eva’s Hammer. Blazkowicz informs Anya of his condition after she confronts him about avoiding her as of late, but their conversation is broken by Grace, who announces a plan to cripple Nazi leadership (the Oberkommando) at their base in Roswell, New Mexico. After recovering a nuclear warhead from the bowels of Eva’s Hammer, Blazkowicz travels to Roswell and meets up with Super Spesh, who provides support for him as he infiltrates the Nazi base, plants the bomb and annihilates it. However, when he makes a detour to his old home in Mesquite, Texas, to retrieve a family heirloom, Blazkowicz confronts his father and is captured by General Engle. An attempt to free him from captivity fails, and Blazkowicz is sentenced to death, briefly imagining himself escaping and meeting with his mother one last time during the trial. During his execution, General Engle personally beheads him, but the Kreisau Circle recovers his head and manage to keep him alive, grafting his head onto a new body. Swinging from the morose and maudlin to whacky comedy at the drop of a hat, The New Colossus has been one hell of a journey so far, and this is from just completing the first half of the game, which I’ve heard to be the weaker half (in turn suggesting that things will continue to get better as I progress further).

When The New Colossus first released, it was bug-ridden: I’ve been fortunate in that the game has been very stable for the most part. With this in mind, my first evening with The New Colossus was characterised by not being able to take screenshots and my mouse sensitivity settings reverting to their default values whenever I re-entered the game. I’m also able to alt-tab out of the game now without suffering crashes. The game has since seen some patches and at the time of writing, both of my issues have been rectified, allowing me to focus on the gameplay and story. Shooting and movement is of a high quality, thanks to both the Id Tech 6 Engine and a capable GPU, presenting an experience as smooth as that of The New Colossus‘ predecessors. However, where The New Colossus really shines is in its characterisations: more so than the previous Wolfenstein games, The New Colossus presents Blazkowicz as a mortal man struggling to deal with his impending death and resolute determination to have a proper family, having known only abuse with his father and seeking solace in his mother’s company. The Kreisau Circle and crew on board Eva’s Hammer become his new family, and in exploring Eva’s Hammer, players see through Blazkowicz some more interesting and meaningful interactions amongst the people on board. Similarly, the extent of General Engle and the Third Reich’s fanaticism is superbly presented – by The New Colossus, the enmity between Blazkowicz and Engle reach new heights; Engle addresses Blazkowicz with a mixture of revulsion and perversion. While The New Colossus might be a shooter whose marketing campaign was centred around wholesale slaughter, a colourful, well-written cast of characters forms the centrepiece of The New Colossus, and moments spent on board Eva’s Hammer exploring are just as enjoyable as the moments where I am taking on Nazi robots with the Lasergewehr.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the past 24 hours, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka: Dear My Sister premièred in Japanese theatres, although unlike Girls und Panzer: Der Film, things have been quieter – I’ve not seen quite as much excitement around the ‘net. There will be a time to write about Dear My Sister later, so for the time being, I will focus on The New Colossus. After seeing the trailer footage of a Fat Man-like device being used on New York for The New Order, players will have a chance to see what New York looks like in the aftermath. In the trailer, the bomb appeared to have been detonated in Lower Manhattan: if we assume a similar yield of 20 kilotons, the blast would level everything within a 1.1 kilometer radius and severely damage buildings out to a distance of 1.24 kilometers.

  • Looking at the maps, then, it is plausible that the Empire State Building would have survived, structurally intact. Blazkowicz is dropped into an area outside of the detonation, since most of the buildings are still standing, albeit severely damaged and exposed to the elements. Of the crew on board Eva’s Hammer, Blazkowicz is capable of surviving the radiation in New York owing to the suit of Da’at Yichud powered armour, and so, he is sent to go into the ruins of Manhattan to locate the New York resistance.

  • The hazmat gear Nazi soldiers have are reminiscent of the cleaners from The Division, and I’ve made a decision about The Division: the game’s gone on some sales now for prices well below what I’d seen previously, and I’ve heard rumours that Steam will have a Black Friday sale this year starting on November 22. If this is the case, I will likely pick up The Division; this time of year seems to be well-suited for playing through The Division, and I would like to get a bit of a start on it.

  • After I found my first weapon upgrade kit, I added the suppressor to my pistol so I could headshot commanders from a distance outside of the throwing range for hatchets. The pistol is surprisingly useful and while I avoid sidearms in most games, Wolfenstein‘s pistols are immensely useful for stealth approaches, being able to eliminate most standard enemies with one well-placed round to the skull. The second weapon upgrade I would apply was adding a marksman optic to the assault rifle. The lack of dedicated long-range weapons in Wolfenstein is a first: The New Order had the Marksman rifle, and The Old Blood gave players the Bombenschuss. The marksman optic turns the assault rifle into an accurate weapon for longer-range combat, making it an indispensable upgrade.

  • The lighting effects in The New Colossus are impressive, and here, I stop to admire the volumetric lighting in New York before descending into the subways. I’m playing the game on standard difficulty: I went through the previous two Wolfenstein games on “Bring ’em on!”, occasionally switching to “Don’t Hurt Me!” when things got too tricky to play through in The New Order. Because I became much more familiar with the mechanics by The Old Blood, I’ve not had to do that, and in The New Colossus, while some parts of the game kicked my ass, I’ve managed to overcome those segments without lowering the difficulty.

  • I imagine that when I begin my journey in The Division, I will be seeing a lot more of the New York Subway; The New Colossus has a few sections set in the subway systems of New York, and in the close quarters of the tunnels, having a good close quarters weapon becomes indispensable. Since I’ve yet to get the shotgun here, I stuck with the Dieselgewehr, a flamethrower-like weapon that launches fireballs that are devastating against even heavily armoured opponents.

  • The derelict tunnels of New York are reminiscent of those seen in the Metro series of games. My introduction to Metro was through Last Light four years ago, when my GPU came with a complimentary copy of the game. A mere curiosity at first, I came to greatly enjoy Metro: Last Light, went back and beat Metro 2033: Redux, and presently, I’m looking forwards to seeing how Metro: Exodus will handle. I’ve heard the game will be more open than its predecessors, and I’m hoping this to be true, as Metro: Last Light and Metro 2033 were both highly linear in nature.

  • Against the Supersoldaten, who dual-wield heavy weapons, even a single Dieselgewehr proves to be absolutely lethal, making short work of them on standard difficulty. By means of a pilot light, the weapon can be kept ready for firing on short notice at the expense of mobility, similar to the Lasergewehr. One thing I was not expecting here was suddenly being knocked down by dogs, which causes Blazkowicz to drop any heavy weapons he’s wielding and lowers mobility. Jumping up after being knocked down is the fastest way of getting back into the fight.

  • Here, I fight against a massive robot in Manhattan: it is armed with a missile launcher similar to the Cyberdemon’s aerial bombardment ability, plus a flamethrower for close range combat. When I encountered this monstrosity, I was running low on Dieselkraftwerk ammunition – I ended up emptying my magazine into it, and then switched over to dual assault rifles, hammering the missile launcher to destroy it. It subsequently became a matter of staying out of range of the flamethrower and shooting it until it ded.

  • After linking up with Grace Walker and Super Spesh, Blazkowicz stays behind to hold off the Nazi reinforcements while the other resistance members are evacuated. The penthouse fight is high intensity and offers only a few places to hide from enemy fire. I ended up using dual assault rifles throughout the fight, counting on the heavier hitting rounds to deal damage. Enemies will appear from all directions, and it took me several attempts to overcome this part of the game. There is a weapon upgrade kit up here, and some cans of fuel for the Dieselkraftwerk, which is useful for taking out the Supersoldaten that arrive.

  • Back on board Eva’s Hammer, Grace’s crew settle in and open up a hacker’s corner. Exploring Eva’s hammer is surprisingly fun, and there’s even a club with a working Wolfenstein 3D mini-game in an arcade console. I ended up grabbing some potatoes for Rosa, a pig that Max Hass is fond of. I cracked a smile when I saw how Rosa’s room is set up; there’s a disco ball in here that certainly livens things up. Walking through Eva’s Hammer and exploring all of the rooms was fun, and there’s even a shooting range here where Blazkowicz can go to resupply and practise shooting. Some weapon upgrade kits are also hidden in here.

  • Deep in the bowels of Eva’s Hammer is a nuclear weapons armoury that is protected by Supersoldaten: the heavy weapons will make short work of them. There are numerous recharging and refuelling stations here. I note that all heavy weapons can be warmed up, allowing them to fire more quickly, but this comes at the cost of movement speed.

  • By this point in The New Colossus, I’ve also opted to grab the armour-piercing rounds for the assault rifle, as well as the nailgun upgrade for the submachine guns, bolstering their damage potential. I’ve chosen to focus on improving the weapons’ versatility first, before maximising their damage – weapons each have three upgrade slots, and some upgrades are more useful than others, so it’s not too big of a deal that I miss some of the upgrades.

  • While I miss the Marksman Rifle from The New Order, the assault rifles of The New Colossus appears to have fulfilled that void when upgraded with the optics and AP rounds: their advantage over the original Marksman Rifle is that they have a larger magazine capacity and ammunition is more plentiful. In the confines of Eva’s Hammer, a pair of assault rifles with AP rounds will make short work of the Supersoldaten when heavy weaponry and Dieselkraftwerk ammunition are in short supply.

  • A couple of rounds from the Dieselkraftwerk will eliminate the Supersoldaten, and here, I narrowly dodge laser fire from one. Looking at the date stamps on these screenshots and the calendar show that we’re almost halfway through November. Work’s been quite busy, and I daresay I’ve finally found my groove again – October and September was a little slow, but it feels like I’ve been a bit more productive again. Thus, it feels great going into the Remembrance Day long weekend: I’m not convocating this year, so I spent today relaxing at the local bookstore, which was much busier than it had been during the summer.

  • Afterwards, I visited the Café 100 and had their sizzling plate chicken steak with black pepper sauce for dinner. There’s nothing quite like a Hong Kong style chicken steak; the meat is tender and tasty, perfect for nights that are lengthening now that Daylight Savings has rolled back. A ways back, our province was discussing whether or not Daylight Savings should be kept permanent, and while it would be amusing to do so, I can also see it as being a hassle for transportation schedules, as well as NHL games. Back in The New Colossus, I finally find the room with the warheads and retrieve one.

  • After acquiring the bomb, Blazkowicz returns to the bridge and is briefed on his next assignment, to smuggle the nuclear warhead into the Oberkommando headquarters in Roswell and blow the place sky-high. The first segment is to rendezvous with Super Spesh at his All American Diner, and this starts with a walk through the streets of Roswell, New Mexico. The atmospherics here are surprisingly detailed, and it’s worth taking the time to look around and see what’s changed, versus what’s stayed the same, in an America run by Nazis.

  • My favourite cutscene in The New Order is set at Papa Joe’s All American Diner, when a Nazi officer enters and asks for a strawberry milkshake, comments on how it’s his favourite American thing, jokes about how the rest of the menu should be more German and begins asking Blazkowicz for his papers. The fellow seemed friendly enough until he recognises Blazkowicz on the wanted posters, prompting Super Spesh to shoot him. They enter his command post and Super Spesh briefs Blazkowicz on how to infiltrate the Oberkommando headquarters. As an aside, there’s an app on the App Store called “The Spesh”; rather than any space alien conspiracy or anything of that nature, it’s an app designed to find specials for entertainment and dining. While a great idea on paper, the app itself has a terrible design.

  • I managed to complete this entire section without triggering the alarm, attesting to the usefulness of the suppressed pistol. There’s another weapon upgrade kit located here, and I ended up saving it so as to upgrade the shotguns as soon as they are found. The sheer scale of Nazi facilities in Wolfenstein makes exploring an incredibly fun experience, and the aim in this section is to take control of a rocket-powered train to reach the Oberkommando headquarters.

  • What’s impressive about this section is that train tunnels will be continuously generated until players reach the front of the train to helm the controls. This is where players will first find the Schockhammer X, an upgrade from the Schockhammer seen in The New Order, and features a high rate of fire thanks to its three rotating barrels. The best upgrade for this gun are ricochetting shells, which bounce of walls and can damage enemies multiple times if fired in close quarters; this is why saving that upgrade kit found earlier is useful, as the upgrade allows Blazkowicz to tear through the close quarters inside the train with relative ease.

  • The raw firepower offered by dual-wielding both the Dieselkraft and automatic shotgun is unmatched, wrecking havoc with anything that is downrange of the weapons. The automatic shotguns are incredibly powerful and can blow limbs off enemies: one feature in The New Order I found amusing was that some weapons were powerful enough to gouge holes into victims or blast appendages off. I’ve noticed that headshots can blast heads clean off enemies in The New Colossus, as well.

  • Here, I watched the animation where Blazkowicz cuts off the commander’s arm before burying the hatchet…into the commander’s skull. The melee kill animations are incredibly satisfying, and against some enemies, Blazkowicz will slice their legs off. It’s absolutely brutal and absolutely hilarious, but one thing about The New Colossus I had to reacclimatise to was that melee kills on enemies do not restore health as Glory Kills did in DOOM.

  • Like The Old Blood, listening in on the conversations the Nazi soldiers have with one another offers a great deal of insight into their own backgrounds, as is finding journal entries, letters and postcards. There are moments where the nameless, faceless Nazis that Blazkowicz wastes are presented as ordinary humans, but all empathy goes out the window when they spot Blazkowicz and open fire on him. While the game’s proven to handle quite well, the mechanism for switching weapons in dual-wielding is a little cumbersome, and it’s best to make the switch before entering a firefight.

  • On the other hand, dual-wielding two weapons of the same kind at once is easy, and it’s possible to engage the alternative fire mode on one weapon only. Here, I square off against an UberSoldat, a mechanical, Terminator-like enemy armed with energy weapons and graced with incredible speed. The best countermeasure against them are dual shotguns: a single blast from each (or two consecutive shots from a single shotgun) on standard difficulty will make quick work of them.

  • Super Spesh has very quickly become one of my favourite characters in The New Colossus: between his paranoia about “space aliens” and excitement at the prospect of making Nazis experience a bad day, his character’s offered much comedy in the game. He suggests to Blazkowicz that the nuclear warhead be placed inside the nuclear reactor so the radioactive signature is hidden. I managed to blast my way to the end and set the bomb, but alarms suddenly go off: Blazkowicz’s presence has not gone unnoticed, and the Oberkommando begin evacuating, leaving Blazkowicz to fight another robot.

  • Complicating the fight are the numerous soldiers that show up, coupled with the fact that there are gaps in the platform that lead to deep chasms. It took me a few attempts to get this part right, but I managed to succeed in the end, destroying the robot. Being knocked down here is quite costly, so I prioritised engaging the robot’s missile launcher first.

  • As Blazkowicz moves through the facility to escape, Nazi rockets are seen taking off: this whole scene brings to mind the sort of facilities seen in DOOM: I haven’t played through DOOM since I beat it last year, and while the multiplayer was mildly entertaining, the campaign is worth going through again. One of the things that both DOOM and Wolfenstein nail is the simple HUD, which gives enough information to be useful and places the elements in familiar spots so I can immediately ascertain Blazkowicz’s state at a glance.

  • After vacating the Oberkommando Headquarters and detonating the warhead, Blazkowicz heads to Mesquite in Texas, where is family home was. He finds the ring that belonged to his mother, but finds himself face-to-face with his father, Rip Blazkowicz. A racist and self-serving, Rip frequently abused William and Sofia; he is defiant to the last and attempts to sell out Blazkowicz to General Engle before being killed. Engle soon arrives and pulls the Blazkowicz home from the ground, and Blazkowicz is captured here.

  • Super Spesh dies trying to free Blazkowicz with a ruse, and Blazkowicz is sentenced to death. At his trial, he imagines himself breaking free and meeting with his mother, who reassures him. During this segment of the game, Blazkowicz is able to make use of the Hammergewehr, a quad-barrel automatic shotgun that is absolutely vicious in close quarters; I used it to reduce a group of soldiers into a pile of meat and blood à la Mayu Suzumoto of Corpse Party (and most certainly not Mayu Shimada of Wake Up, Girls!).

  • While Blazkowicz’s execution was a sobering scene that outlines just how sadistic General Engle is, the mood changes abruptly when the Kreisau Circle rescues him. The grim mood gives way to a sense of lightheartedness as Set Roth works to bring Blazkowicz back from the dead. I was all smiles here – how Blazkowicz is rescued is well beyond the realm of any known science and quite over-the-top, comparable to Futurama in execution; Blazkowicz is preserved as a head-in-a-jar until Roth manages to link his head to a new body.

I think I’m at The New Colossus‘ halfway point now: with Blazkowicz restored to full physical fitness, it seems my days of being stuck with fifty percent health and ability to pick up two hundred points of armour are long over. I’ve had the change to test out the battle walker stilts, as well: taking the place of DOOM‘s double jump, the battle walker contraption acts as a mobile set of steps, and allow Blazkowicz to reach high places, perfect for picking off enemies with headshots. It’s apparent that the gameplay is about to change, and this shift keeps The New Colossus refreshing and novel; MachineGames has evidently found new ways to continue to keep Wolfenstein exciting. Moving ahead, Blazkowicz is heading to New Orleans; the deep south has long been a place I’ve associated with long summer days and as we’re approaching winter, it’ll be quite fun to play through a warmer locale with a Blazkowicz who handles more similarly to his old self from The New Order, albiet with some fancy upgrades. My experience at the halfway point suggests that the price of admissions was worth it, and I’m looking forwards to seeing just how The New Colossus will prove this point to be correct in the game’s second half.

Insights in Character Songs from Glasslip: A Refrain to Sachi Nagamiya (Kimi e to Refrain Lyrics)

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” —Confucius

Released late in October, the Glasslip character song album, Utagoe no Kakera (Fragments of Singing Voice) featured performances from each of the characters in Glasslip; while Glasslip itself proved to be a disappointment on multiple fronts, from an inconsistent narrative to misleading symbols and unclear character goals, the anime’s audio and visual aspects were particularly strong. Glasslip‘s musical score served to project a particular atmosphere and mood where character dialogue and actions were inadequate; the soundtrack’s combination of classical pieces with incidental tracks work in conjunction to convey a sense of wistfulness and confusion that invariably accompanies love. As a character song album, none of the vocal tracks in Fragments of Singing Voice would have made it into Glasslip proper, but each song serves to do what the anime could not: they provide more insight into each of the characters and their personalities, beliefs and desires. Of the tracks on Fragments of Singing Voice, the one that stood out most was Sachi Nagamiya’s Kimi e to Refrain (君へとRefrain, “A Refrain To You”), performed by Risa Taneda. In contrast with Sachi’s characterisation as a quiet individual fond of books, Taneda’s delivery of Kimi e to Refrain is spirited, upbeat and sexy, giving another perspective of one of Glasslip‘s least explored characters. It is easily my favourite song on the Fragments of Singing Voice album, and curiosity led me to translate the lyrics, which yield a considerable amount of insight into Sachi’s character well beyond what viewers saw in Glasslip.

Japanese Lyrics

  • Whenever Kimi e to Refrain plays, I think about long summer days, endless blue skies and a sort of excitement associated with the prospects of a full day to myself. The rhythm and composition of this song also brings to mind the atmosphere surrounding high school as the weather warms. Curiosity about what this song entailed led me to talk to some of my friends, and with their help, we transcribed the lyrics and worked out what the song was about. It turns out that this is indeed a song evocative of summer, a season I feel to be most appropriate for discovering new love. Here’s a copy of the song for all interested readers’ listening enjoyment.

Kanji

​紡がれた言葉に閉じ込めた気持ちを
読み取るように今日もまた

行く当ても分からず心は旅に出る
いつかはたどり着くのかな
決めるのはいつだって自分なんだって
眩しさに歪む明日へと迷わずに行きたくて

変わらない笑顔とやだしさに包まれ
何かが変わって行く子に季節を越えて
抱えきれない思いのかけらキラキラ君へとリフレイン

不確かでもいい素直なままで心逸らさないで先へ

線香花火から落ちた赤い雫
熱く儚く弾けた

どうしても見つからない場所があった
君の名を呼ぶその度に吹き抜ける風がいた

些細なざわめきに心は揺れ動き
もどかしさを抱え理由を探してた
忘れたくないこの瞬間がいつか答えになるんだと
今は先へと進んでみよう君の隣で笑ってたい

見上げれば幾千の星のストーリー
約束の場所から明日へと迷わずに行けるから

変わらない笑顔とやだしさに包まれ
何かが変わってく子に季節を越えて
抱えきれない想いのかけらキラキラ君へとリフレイン

不確かでもいい素直なままで心逸らさないで先

君の (君の) 側で (側で)

Romaji

​Tsumugareta kotoba ni tojikometa kimochi wo
Yomitoku you ni kyou mo mata

Yukuate mo wakarazu kokoro wa tabi ni deru
Itsuka wa tadoritsuku no kana
Kimeru no wa itsudatte jibun nan datte
Mabushisa ni yugamu asu e to mayowazu ni yukitakute

Kawaranai egao to yasashisa ni tsutsumare
Nanika ga kawatte iku kono kisetsu wo koete
Kakaekirenai omoi no kakera kirakira kimi e to refrain

Futashika demo ii sunao na mama de kokoro sorasanai de saki e

Senkouhanabi kara ochita akai shizuku
Atsuku hakanaku hajiketa

Doushitemo mitsukaranai basho ga atta
Kimi no na wo yobu sono tabi ni fukinukeru kaze ga ita

Sasaina zawameki ni kokoro wa yure ugoki
Modokashisa wo kakae riyuu wo sagashiteta
Wasuretakunai kono shunkan ga itsuka kotae ni narundato
Ima wa saki e to susunde miyou kimi no tonari de warattetai

Miagereba ikusen no hoshi no story
Yakusoku no basho kara asu e to mayowazu ni yukeru kara

Kawaranai egao to yasashisa ni tsutsumare
Nanika ga kawatteku kono kisetsu wo koete
Kakaekirenai omoi no kakera kirakira kimi e to refrain

Futashika demo ii sunao na mama de kokoro sorasanai de saki e

Kimi no (kimi no) soba de (soba de)

English Translation

  • During the translation process, I’ve done my best to choose words that are able to flow with the rhythm of Kimi e to Refrain, and as I’m no songwriter, what we’ve got here is an approximation at best. While I’ve modified some of the phrasings and word order to make the lyrics sound more natural in English, I think that the meaning from the original Japanese lyrics are largely retained despite these changes. Doing this post has also led me to learn that the reason why Cantonese songs can be readily covered from Japanese is because Cantonese is mono-syllabic. Consider just how well Seiko Matsuda’s 大切なあなた (Romaji “Taisetsu na Anata“, “Precious You”) is performed by Vivian Lai in the Cantonese equivalent, 陽光路上 (Jyutping “joeng4 gwong1 lou6 soeng5”, “Sunshine Road”).

​Feelings that were trapped in woven words
I’ll try to decipher them again today

My heart goes on a journey with no destination
I wonder if it’ll arrive someday
The one who decides that is always me
I want to enter without hesitation into a tomorrow distorted by the brilliance

Surrounded by an unchanging smile and kindness
Something starts to change beyond this season
An emotion I can’t contain, a sparkling refrain from you

Be straightforward, it’s fine if it’s uncertain, my heart won’t waver as it moves forward

Red sparks that fall from the sparkler
Burst with warmth fleetingly

A place I couldn’t find no matter what
There was a wind that blew whenever I called your name

A trivial rumour sways and moves my heart
Finding the reasons for my frustration and embracing it
I don’t want to forget, this moment will become the answer
I want to move forward, I want to laugh beside you

If we look up, there are thousands of stars with stories
We can move from the promised place to tomorrow without hesitation

Surrounded by an unchanging smile and kindness
Something starts to change beyond this season
An emotion I can’t contain, a sparkling refrain from you

Be straightforward, it’s fine if it’s uncertain, my heart won’t waver as it moves forward

By your (by your) side (side)

Kimi e to Refrain speaks of Sachi’s worldview: fond of reading and quiet environments, Sachi feels that she has troubles understanding how she feels about those around her. Tempted by her desire to move into the future but also being tempered by her doubts about the unknowns, Kimi e to Refrain juxtaposes these conflicting feelings, and the lyrics shows that Sachi is the sort of person who ultimately can move forwards as long as she is with someone to support her. In Glasslip, Sachi frequently leans on Tōko for emotional support until Tōko dissolved a promise where their group of friends would remain such. Subsequently, Hiro begins spending more time with Sachi, acting on his feelings. Kimi e to Refrain is seemingly ambiguous as to whether or not the person Sachi most wishes to spend her future with is Tōko or Hiro; the lyrics have a certain degree of romance to them. In the song, Sachi expresses that these feelings are as beautiful and transient as fireworks, and that as others have undoubtedly shared this experience previously, she’s willing to seize the moment and make the most of things. In describing the romantic and transient nature of her feelings, Sachi is likely referring to the moment in Glasslip‘s tenth episode when she expresses her feelings for Tōko and Hiro. Despite having long felt protective of Tōko and hating Kakeru for disrupting the status quo, Kakeru’s actions indirectly result in Hiro acting on his feelings for Sachi, beginning the start of a hitherto unexplored dynamic between the two.

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve done anything related to Glasslip, and this post deals predominantly with Sachi. Folks continue to believe that Sachi and Tōko were more than friends, but after taking a look at Kimi e to Refrain, it becomes clear that while Sachi greatly treasures her friendship with Tōko, she is also willing to step into a world of uncertainties. Throughout Glasslip, Sachi’s propensity for few words means that her feelings aren’t always made known to viewers.

  • Quiet and studious, Sachi’s favourite pastime is reading – she spends her free time by the window with a book in hand. Her interests are the most similar to my own of anyone in the cast, and she’s my favourite of the characters in Glasslip. I recall a ways back, I did a thought experiment on what my ideal first date would look like – with Sachi, taking her to a bookstore would likely be a fantastic starting point. The larger bookstores from my part of the world usually are close to a coffee shop, and back during the summer, I fondly recall an afternoon where I spent an afternoon at the bookstore, browsing through their vast inventory, before sitting down for a caffè mocha.

  • I’ve not thought about it, but it looks like that doing this sort of thing constitutes as ‘taking myself on  a date’. Admittedly, it is fun to sip a caffè mocha and watch as the world proceeds with their business: when I think about it, a bookstore-coffee shop combination is actually not a bad place for a date. Of course, this is just me, and I imagine the odds of finding someone who shares this particular perspective will be a nontrivial task.

  • Sachi seems to be a bit more on the frail side: midway into Glasslip, she is admitted to hospital. Whatever other faults Glasslip may have had, the visuals within the anime were top-tier, matching those seen in Tari Tari. Whether it be the play of light in glass beads, warm colours of a summer afternoon or the details in the town, everything in Glasslip was stunning to behold; this is one of the reasons why I persisted through the anime.

  • I watched Glasslip the same summer that I watched GochiUsa, and speaking to her skill, it’s not immediately apparent that Rise Taneda voices Sachi, so different is her delivery of Sachi’s lines in Glasslip against her presentation of GochiUsa‘s Rize Tedeza. Most know Taneda best for her performance as Your Lie In April‘s Kaori Miyazono. However, in Kimi e to Refrain, Taneda’s singing voice is most similar to how she performs Rize’s character songs.

  • Over the course of Glasslip, Sachi and Hiro begin spending more time together, both during awkward moments where Hiro must escape before Tōko discovers what’s going on, and later, once things settle down, the two go on a few dates with one another. The pairing in Glasslip that left viewers with the strongest negative impression was Yanagi and Yukinari; Yukinari has feelings for Tōko, while Yanagi has feelings for Yukinari. She makes his feelings known to him, and while the two remain on cordial terms for the remainder of Glasslip after he turns her down, Yanagi takes up running herself and from my perspective, exudes a sense of melancholy despite doing her best to stay positive.

  • Glasslip wraps up at the end of summer vacation, with everyone returning to classes. Looking back, Glasslip is something that likely would have been more clear with its symbols and motifs had it a bit more time to flesh these elements out. Additional time would have also given opportunity to explore the growing closeness between Sachi and Hiro, while also showing how Yanagi and Yukinari move on in their own ways. However, given the overwhelmingly negative reception directed at Glasslip, reflected through the fact that Glasslip had the lowest BD sales of any PA Works anime, it is unlikely that Glasslip will receive any sort of continuation or expansion.

Because notions of journeys, heading into the future and moving forwards are so prominently mentioned in Sachi’s Kimi e to Refrain, the song strongly suggests that this person she wishes to rely on, to walk the future with, is Hiro. Things began changing under the fireworks for the pair, and rumours of a romance between Hiro and Sachi definitely circulate, which Kimi e to Refrain references; because Tōko’s friendship with Sachi is an older one, Kimi e to Refrain is not likely referring to her. Instead, it is these newfound feelings that prompts Sachi to want to seize the future with more confidence even as she hesitates, owing to her old friendship, and Kimi e to Refrain‘s final stanza suggest that the brilliance of these emotions that lead her to want to move on. Consequently, through Kimi e to Refrain, it becomes clear that Sachi is able to let go of her reliance on Tōko and wholeheartedly pursue her relationship with Hiro, whereas previously, she was struggling to understand how she felt about both Hiro and Tōko. This is evident in the progression of events in Glasslip, where Sachi begins spending more time with Hiro, pursing the future that she’s so uncertain about. While existing perspectives remain adamant that Sachi has feelings for Tōko, Kimi e to Refrain clears up one of the elements that Glasslip began exploring, and it is quite apparent that Glasslip could have succeeded in illustrating the turbulent nature of relationships as youth begin exploring them had the anime chosen to focus on these aspects sans any supernatural, Newtype-like phenomenon.