The Infinite Zenith

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

Tag Archives: reflections

Girls und Panzer Das Finale Part One: Review and Reflection

“On ne passe pas.” –General Robert Nivelle

While using telemetry to search for additional tanks in the Ooarai, rumours that Momo might be held back circulate. It turns out that she was not accepted to an university; this coincides with a Winter Cup, which was re-instated in preparation for the upcoming World Cup. Aiming to leave her legacy for Miho and her juniors, Momo resolutely led the search for new tanks so Ooarai’s future was assured, and when it is mentioned that some universities accept students based on extracurricular merit, Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team decide to make Momo commander, banking on a win at the Winter Club to help her with post-secondary admissions. Miho and the others decide to descend into the bowels of Ooarai’s ship. Sodoko refers area to this as the “Johannesberg of Ooarai”, and after she’s abducted by a pair of students, Mako follows in pursuit, leading them to Bar Donozoko. Miho and her friends liberate Sodoko and explain that they’re searching for a tank, but the bar’s patrons challenge them to a series of contests. Miho’s crew come out triumphant, earning the respect of the group’s captain, Ogin. It turns out that Ogin and her friends were indebted to Momo, who saved from some expulsion some years ago, and after learning that their smoker is the tank that Miho was seeking, Bar Donozoko’s crew decide to man the tank, introducing themselves and swearing to help Momo. At the opening draw, Momo draws for the first match, which will be against BC Freedom Academy. Beyond the knowledge that BC Freedom is typically eliminated from round one, Miho remarks that nothing is known about them, prompting Yukari to perform her usual reconnaissance, learning there is a deep division that runs at BC Freedom. On the day of the match, Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team is introduced to their newest group, the Shark Team and their Mark IV. BC Freedom is late to the party, but once they arrive, the match begins. They split up, leading Momo to keep her main column together and determine where BC Freedom’s armour went. Deducing BC Freedom’s flag tank location, Ooarai advances to the suspected position to engage, but when when crossing a wooden bridge, they suddenly find themselves being shelled. Surprised at the exemplary coordination BC is exhibiting, Yukari apologises for having failed in her reconnaissance duties. With the bridge beginning to fail, Miho proposes using the Mark IV as a ramp, allowing all of Ooarai’s tanks to safely leave the bridge. BC Freedom orders a tactical retreat while Miho and her forces regroup.

The opening act of Das Finale is functionally equivalent to two standard episodes, so after forty minutes of play, Das Finale’s first instalment follows in the same manner as its predecessor; circumstance dictates the recovery of an additional tank, and a match begins to set the tone for the remainder of what is upcoming in Das Finale. Das Finale is motivated by rather different reasons than the TV series and Der Film, with more senior students considering what their futures entail. With Momo in a difficult spot, Ooarai’s students rally to help her out: all of this is only possible because of the strong bond that everyone shares. Momo has long been presented as a person who has a remarkably tender spirit despite her tough exterior, and so, Das Finale‘s choice to focus on her gives an opportunity to weave a different narrative than what viewers had seen previously from Girls und Panzer. While Das Finale also retains a familiar, tried-and-true story, there are enough novel elements to keep Das Finale fresh. The comedy of watching Ankou Team somehow manage to kick the asses of everyone at Bar Donozoko is amusing, as is Ooarai’s clever use of the Mark IV as a makeshift ramp to escape a collapsing bridge. In its execution, Das Finale‘s first act is conventional, setting the stage for what lies ahead for Ooarai and their Panzerfahren team: Girls und Panzer has traditionally excelled in depicting the journey, rather than its destination, and so, while the first part moves in a highly foreseeable manner, Das Finale introduces enough new elements while returning to the skill-based roots of the TV series to result in a highly entertaining start for Das Finale. While off to a solid start, one element to keep in mind for new-coming viewers is that Das Finale is set after Girls und Panzer and Der Film: mission-critical elements are explored in earlier instalments, so in order to fully appreciate where Das Finale is going, one should take the time to ensure they are familiar with events of both the 2012 anime and the 2015 movie. The plus side about this is that Girls und Panzer isn’t particularly long, and with the second act’s theatrical screening date unknown, there is plenty of time for interested viewers to do so.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Because Das Finale is releasing six movies, it stands to reason that each movie is equivalent to two episodes. From this, I will be doing what is essentially an episodic review; each post for Das Finale will feature forty screenshots, and I will attempt to ensure a reasonable distribution of screenshots for all of the critical moments in each part, or act. We open up this discussion with Momo reacting to headlines in the school newspaper about her repeating a year while on the hunt for new tanks; of all the characters, Momo is the most prone to being depicted with what I call “funny faces”.

  • Understandably concerned for her, the entire Panzerfahren team shows up to learn the truth from Momo, who is shaken. While she and Anzu were among my least favourite of the characters when Girls und Panzer‘s first few episodes aired, they quickly earned my respect in their respect for Miho and dedication to Ooarai. A subtle sign of their commitment is that during their tank selection, they went with the Panzer 38(t), a light tank with thin armour and a weak primary armament. While they would upgrade later to the Hetzner, that the student council willingly took the weakest tank illustrates that they have faith in Miho and her abilities.

  • One of Girls und Panzer‘s great strengths was being able to adequately flesh out all of the secondary characters despite only having twelve episodes to work with. By Das Finale, Miho, Yukari, Saori, Hana and Mako’s personalities are well-established, and second to Ankou Team, Turtle Team’s members figure prominantly in Girls und Panzer. Anzu and Yuzu’s characters are relatively straightforward compared to Momo; both get into their preferred institutes and performed reasonably well in matches. As such, the choice to have Momo leading Ooarai for Das Finale is a chance for audiences to see her shine, having been given the short end of the stick in Girls und Panzer and Der Film.

  • More insight is provided on Ooarai’s school ship: during the third OVA (which I wrote about a shade more than five years ago), the school ships of the Girls und Panzer universe were presented as well-maintained, orderly facilities where girls learned practical skills. Besides the default general studies group, there are also students dedicated towards the maintaining of the ships’ basic functions. Most of these folks are well-kempt and disciplined, but Das Finale shows that the sheer size of these vessels gives rise to the slums phenomenon that plagues large urban areas, as a result of inadequate resources to maintain law enforcement in all areas.

  • The depths of the Ooarai school ship are known as “Johannesberg”, a city in South Africa affected by serious urban decay, but when I see this side of Ooarai’s school ship, it bring to mind the likes of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City and Útulek Complex in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The girls’ pensiveness is evident here, especially Miho, who’s contracted in fear. While a fearsome tank commander and strategist, on foot, Miho and her diminutive 5’2″ frame is not particularly intimidating. Miho reminds me a great deal of Slow Start‘s Hana Ichinose, whom I’ve long felt to me what Miho might be like in the absence of Panzerfahren, and seeing her body language in this side of Ooarai’s school ship definitely reinforces this.

  • After falling into a wine cellar while in pursuit of Sodoko, Miho and the others find themselves in Bar Donozoko. Unfamiliar with the setting, everyone orders something with milk in it, leading the patrons to mock them. While long seen as a drink for children, nutritional experts recommend that adults continue to drink milk because it’s got a variety of compounds that make it a healthy option, and bodybuilders consume it precisely for this reason. I admittedly prefer it over coffee, and where possible, I try to have two glasses every day.

  • Each of Yukari, Saori and Mako manage to hold their own against Bar Donozoko’s challenges: Yukari’s expertise in knots allow her to quickly unknot a rope presented to her, Saori has become very versed in communications and is able to work out the semaphore message given to her, while Mako bests Rum in a thumb war. Goaded beyond endurance, Murakami makes to kick Miho’s ass, but Miho demonstrates a hitherto unseen side to her: she dodges all of the strikes and bows in apology, lifting Murakami into he air and throwing her behind the bar. Hilarious and surprising, it seems Miho is much stronger than her slender frame suggests; besides being relevant in Panzerfahren, hip strength also has other uses.

  • Frustrated by Miho and her friends’ resilience, weapons are drawn as Bar Donozoko’s patrons prepare to escalate things. Yukari readies a M24 Stielhandgranate. While there’s no white marking or relief texture on the handle to indicate thus, I imagine it is a smoke grenade variant, since it would be outright obtuse to use an explosive grenade at this range: using it would almost certainly flatten Miho and her friends along with Bar Donozoko’s patrons. Ogin steps in and says that a drinking contest, rather than an all-out fight, seems more appropriate; she’s visibly impressed with what Miho and her friends can do.

  • Because the consumption of alcohol by minors isn’t exactly sanctioned, when the drinking contest comes, a non-alcoholic rum is used. The challenge comes from it being spicy, and I imagine that it’s likely using ghost chili extract, otherwise, the taste of rum would be defeated. Hana holds her own against Ogin, who is no novice, managing to put Ogin on the floor. While presented as a gentle and polite girl, there’s a sexy quality about Hana when she becomes more serious.

  • While bearing the characteristics of delinquents, once Ogin is aware that Miho and her friends are aiming to help Momo, Bar Donozoko’s patrons immediately become more friendly and more in line with how girls from all of the other teams are. They might be a tough-talking, rowdy bunch, but they also possess a sense of honour and respect. Ogin is voiced by Ayane Sakura, better known as GochiUsa‘s Cocoa Hoto, Akane Isshiki of VividRed Operation, Tsubaki Sawabe from Your Lie in April and Kantai Collection‘s Nagato. She reveals the location of the tank and recruits her friends to help Momo out.

  • Now that we’ve got everyone in the frame in lighting conditions that throw each character into sharp relief, from left to right, we have Murakami, Cutlass, Ogin, Rum and Flint. They respectively become the gunners, commander, driver and radio operator for the Mark IV. Momo reacts in joy to seeing them here, pleased to see them again after all this time, and that Momo once saved them from expulsion provides further insight into her as a tough-but-fair individual who is actually quite driven by emotions: of everyone in Girls und Panzer, she cries the most.

  • Glimpses of other schools can be seen during the Winter Cup’s ceremonies, including the rather interesting team just ahead of Ooarai, whose dress style is evocative of the Spanish Legion. Girls und Panzer has hinted previously that there are a very large number of schools, and that Panzerfahren is an international sport. While I wager that the series was created as a one-off, the world-building has been handled well enough so that the series is very scalable: keeping things fresh is as simple as adding more schools and ensuring that they’re properly written. I’ve mentioned this somewhere at another point in time, but to re-iterate, I’d love to see a Canadian-style team featuring all of the Canadian stereotypes.

  • Should a Canadian team be featured, I expect to see stereotypes including: a love for the winter matching Pravda’s, non-stop chatter about ice hockey (so, the girls would argue about whether some goals should be waived off for being offside mid-match), adding Maple Syrup to bloody everything and apologising for every kill, even more than Miho. Such a team would also fight with the ferocity of a beaver: mirroring our actions at Vimy Ridge. Back in Das Finale, Momo’s draw sends Ooarai into a match with BC Continuation school. Looking back on Das Finale‘s first act, while Yukari will later believe that it’s an act, the animosity at BC Academy is quite real according to supplementary materials.

  • With their opponent known, Yukari sneaks off to BC Freedom Academy and learns that the school has two distinct factions as a result of a merger. This setup is based off the divide in France during the Second World War, with the BC faction being more relaxed and easygoing than the strict, disciplined Freedom faction. The division in ideology means that brawls are common on the BC Freedom Academy school ship, and during her excursion to BC Freedom, Yukari is caught in one such fight, learning very little about their opponent beyond a seeming lack of unity. The video she presents includes a knockoff of the LucasFilm™ logo; to quote Bubblegum Tate from Futuama, “Hello, lawsuit”.

  • Yukari is distinctly woebegone after returning from her reconnaissance mission, but is in fine spirits; a school such as BC Freedom would be at a disadvantage during Panzerfahren matches owing to their division, similar to Mao Zedong’s Communists and Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists, who nominally cooperated to repel Imperial Japanese forces, but otherwise, considered one another worse enemies than they did the Japanese. The implications of BC Freedom’s factions could lead to the impression that they are a pushover, but par the course for Girls und Panzer, it’s more likely that BC Freedom has a few tricks up their sleeves.

  • Many familiar faces make a return in Das Finale‘s first act; each of the schools previously seen discuss their future directions in Panzerfahren, and audiences learn that Darjeeling plans to study in the United Kingdom, while Maho’s gone to Germany for her post-secondary education. I’ve chosen not to feature all of those moments here, since doing so would drive the screenshot and figure caption count above what I’m willing to commit to writing this post, but on the topics of time and the future, it’s been five years since Girls und Panzer first aired. A lot can happen in five years; I finished my Bachelor and Masters’ degrees, began working and I’m a ni-dan now.

  • The higher-ranked delegates and officials prepare for the match’s opening. A St. Chamond tank is visible on the table: only four hundred were manufactured, and lacking a turret of modern tanks, it nonetheless is considered as a development in armoured warfare. With a 90 HP gasoline-electric hybrid engine, the St. Chamond could reach a maximum speed of 12 kilometers per hour despite its mass, and later models were armed with a 75mm cannon. Its design made it unwieldy and unsuited for crossing trenches, but its Battlefield 1 incarnation is surprisingly fun to operate: it’s my second-most used tank after the Mark V.

  • BC Freedom Academy’s late arrival to the match leads Saori and the others to wonder if they can win by default; while Ooarai remains hopeful for such an outcome, from a narrative perspective, this approach is impossible (I formally define impossible from a mathematical perspective as “this event is not in the set of events that can occur”), as it would cause the story to end too quickly and lead to a large number of disgruntled viewers. Indeed, BC Freedom Academy arrives fashionably late to foreshadow that they are not necessarily what they seem.

  • The patrons of Bar Donozoko are made operators of the Mark IV tank that Miho and the others found in the bowels of Ooarai, giving their tank a pirate theme. The predecessor to the Mark V, which is seen in Battlefield 1, the Mark IV is the most iconic tank of World War One, being the fourth model in a line of vehicles designed to smash through fortifications and break stalemates. Battlefield 1 presents the Mark V is a superb platform for offense, and while it’s the slowest tank in the game, it’s got the best offensive options for anti-armour engagements. By the time of World War Two, the Mark V and IV would have been woefully inadequate, with its low speed, outdated armament and armour making it vulnerable to period armour. In Girls und Panzer, it is appropriate that the pirate-themed crew helm the Mark IV, whose lineage is informally referred to as “Landships” in Battlefield 1.

  • Compared against the immaculately clean uniforms of Ooarai, Oshida (closest to the viewer, blonde hair) and Andou (between Marie and Oshida) are visibly beaten up, having been seen fighting with one another on the way in. Marie displays a degree of flippancy in refusing to bow (like Gōjū-ryū, we bow to our opponents before beginning a competition), and with the formalities out of the way, the teams are off. Unbefitting of this blog and its usual manner, I remark that Miho’s seen some “character growth” since the events of the first season and movie, being a subtle sign that time is passing.

  • The faded grey skies and yellow-green terrain is a reminder that this battle is set during the winter; while the match against BC Freedom is set in a temperate grassland with some woods as cover, one cannot help but wonder if we’ll see more winter combat in later instalments of Das Finale. The setting admittedly reminds me of Battlefield 1‘s Somme Map from the Apocalypse DLC; I’ve been playing Battlefield 1 only intermittently as of late thanks to The Division running a series of global events, but while working on some community missions, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement to my performance, and have really enjoyed the upgraded SMG 08/18, which is nigh-unstoppable.

  • Based on information from Duck and Leopon teams, Miho deduces that most of BC Freedom’s forces will have taken the high ground. Because the aim of a flag tank match is to kill the flag tank, the match can be concluded in a very decisive manner very quickly. Miho is seen drawing on a Magna Doodle-type device, which operates by using a magnet in the stylus to align magnetic particles. While unsophisticated compared to an iPad, Magna Doodles do not require dry-erase markers, ink or graphite, making them a powerful reusable tool that reduces the need to carry writing equipment into the field.  Miho’s choice of equipment underlie her personality: while she can seem quite childish, Miho is also remarkably practical, making use of the best tools for the task at hand.

  • Despite being quick to bark out orders under normal circumstances, Momo is unaccustomed to fulfilling the role of commander, and is seen constantly asking Miho for advice. Miho encourages Momo and provides feedback to ensure that Momo makes the calls for Ooarai that will lead to victory.

  • The artwork in Girls und Panzer‘s original run was of a high quality, but with the release of Der Film and Das Finale, the amount of detail that’s gone into landscapes and lighting effects have much improved. From crisp blades of grass on the ground to details in the trees and volumetric lighting effects, Das Finale looks and feels amazing. While the improvements are not as pronounced as the jump from Battlefield 3‘s Frostbite 2 Engine to Battlefield 4 and 1‘s Frostbite 3, subtle differences nonetheless indicate that that Actas is constantly improving the visuals to ensure they are eye-pleasing.

  • The number of World War One tanks in Das Finale‘s first chapter brings to mind DICE’s return to World War One for Battlefield 1; one of the most challenging aspects that Girls und Panzer faced following the TV series’ conclusion was designing an enemy more potent than Black Forest. Der Film was somewhat unsuccessful, falling upon an enemy that was superior in terms of equipment alone, and with Das Finale, the introduction of BC Freedom Academy has allowed the series to return to its roots in a skill-based battle over sheer spectacle alone.

  • The volleyball team move into a deserted urban area in pursuit of BC Freedom Academy’s tanks. The urban combat in Das Finale‘s first part is minimal, and they manage to locate a part of the BC Freedom armour before coming under fire. The small number of enemy armour encountered and light combat insofar serves to build the suspense. I experience the same in any shooter; when the map becomes too quiet and I’m given a great deal of resources, I prepare myself for a massive engagement.

  • While scouting ahead, Momo and Yukari locate BC Academy’s main force. Yukari is seen using the same Entfernungsmesser EM 1M R36 binoculars that she used in Der Film. They spot BC Freedom’s students playing games and relaxing on the hill. Some viewers will note that the images cannot be expanded to be viewed in greater detail: I’m treating Das Finale like an episodic review rather than a special movie review, and so, won’t give this series the silver screen review treatment.

  • While attempting to traverse a rickety wooden bridge, Miho’s forces find themselves under heavy fire from the BC Freedom Academy tanks. They begin targeting the unstable wooden support columns and manage to trap a majority of Ooarai’s armour on the bridge. A plunge in the river would spell certain doom for Ooarai here, and the situation looks quite dire for Ooarai, who have walked into a trap of sorts. It’s a bit of a callback to the second episode of the TV series, when Miho finds her tank caught on a bridge between their classmates’ tanks during training, and the first sign of trouble is optics glint that the Student Disciplinary Committee spot. This is why I do not run with high-powered optics in Battlefield 1 unless necessary: seeing scope glint prompts me to immediately take cover and find a different route, so as a sniper, I could stand to lose kills once the opposing team’s players are alerted to my presence.

  • The flag tank that BC Freedom Academy selects for the match is the Renault FT-17, a revolutionary light tank that formed as the predecessor to modern tanks. With its revolving turret, rear-mounted engine and front crew compartment, its design forms the basis for all tanks as we know them. The FT-17 was successfully deployed in 1918 against German forces, and continued to be used into World War Two, but they were completely outmatched by period armour. In Das Finale, it remains to be seen as to whether or not the FT-17 that Commander Marie is fielding is outperformed, or if it is as capable as the FT-17 seen during Battlefield 1‘s open beta, during which I managed a 20-streak with it. The FT-17 has since been re-balanced, with a lower ammunition capacity and longer self-repair time to counter the fact that it was nigh-unstoppable during the open beta.

  • Realising that this is probably the first time she’s let Miho down with her intelligence-gathering, Yukari is seen with tears in her eyes, and even with Miho’s reassurances, the fact remains that elimination could very well be imminent. BC Freedom Academy’s execution here is what motivates this page quote. French for “They shall not pass”, it’s an idiom for expressing determination, and the sustained shelling has a noticeable moral impact on Ooarai’s crews. Miho retains her calm and begins working out a solution, asking Momo to pass on the orders for the option that she’s devised.

  • When Marie realises what the Ooarai tanks are doing, she recoils in shock. Rarely seen without a cake in hand, Marie is a call-out to Marie Antoinette, a rather infamous figure who personified the ills of the old French monarchy. Marie’s cakes are likely a reference to the phrase Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, better known in English as “let them eat cake”. Commonly attributed to Antoinette, there is actually no record she said this; the misconception comes from a line in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s autobiography.

  • BC Freedom employs a hybrid style between Napoleon I’s manoeuvre warfare to disrupt the enemy, and a defensive approach inspired by the Maginot Line. While BC Freedom Academy had such a difficult time getting the different schools to cooperate, both approaches were formed into a “Marriage Approach”. It is this that Ooarai squares off against during its match, but even BC Freedom cannot anticipate the innovative methods Miho applies towards Panzerfahren.

  • In Das Finale‘s first act, BC Freedom is seen fielding the ARL 44 heavy tank, which was designed off older heavy tanks, such as the Char B1. They were intended to trade blows with the Tiger II, but saw no combat during World War Two, only making it into production in 1949. The model proved underwhelming, and only sixty were produced; their role would be fulfilled by the American M47 Patton. Besides the ARL 44, BC Freedom also uses the SOMUA S35, a cavalry tank that could fulfill both anti-personnel and anti-armour roles. Historically, the S35 proved effective in battle, but were also expensive to produce.

  • Working with Miho means an acceptance of the unorthodox; while each of the other schools (save the University team) retain a structured, well-known strategy based off their historical equivalents, Ooarai’s approach to Panzerfahren has become one of improvisation, actively attempting to understand the environment and determining how to best utilise it to gain an advantage. Through Miho’s examples, each of the tank teams have since adopted a penchant for improvisation, and it speaks volumes to Ooarai’s capacity for improvisation when using the Mark IV as a ramp to escape the stricken bridge does not qualify as one of the most outrageous things they’ve done.

  • A glance at the calendar shows that March is very nearly over, which is bewildering. This month has evaporated, and things at work are turning around as spring returns to the world. This post comes right as the winter anime season draws to a close, and after a lunch of garlic-herb breaded sole fillets with fries, I turned my attention towards getting this talk on Das Finale live: nowhere near as large as the post on Der Film, it’s nonetheless taken upwards of four hours to assemble.

  • While Das Finale predominantly makes use of incidental pieces from Girls und Panzer‘s original run and Der Film, there are some new songs that accompany the BC Freedom Academy’s moments. No news of a soundtrack has yet reached my ears, so we return to the actual combat: on the topic of aural elements, Das Finale performs much better than Der Film did. The sounds from each tank firing their main armament sounds much beefier in the former, whereas in the latter, some of the cannons sounded like a marksman rifle from Battlefield 3.

  • Seeing that the hunter has become the hunted, Marie orders all of her tanks to make a withdrawal. Inspection of the exchange of shell fire finds that Ooarai’s gunners hit a few of their marks, but deal glancing damage. The fact that both teams still have their armour suggests that the narrative is going to go in a direction where it’ll be a showdown between Ooarai and BF Freedom’s flag tank, and I wager that Momo will finally land her first kill, having spent the whole of the TV series and movie missing even the most trivial of shots.

  • Having driven off BC Freedom Academy for the present, Miho apologises for having put everyone in such a situation. Thankful everyone’s alright, she rallies her forces and states that they will regroup. Ending the first act of Das Finale on a cliff-hanger and no known release date for part two means we’re likely in for a long wait before seeing how Ooarai manages to best BC Freedom Academy. Having said this, we know now that there will be a three-month gap between theatrical screenings of Das Finale and the subsequent home release, so once the opening date for act two is known, we can reasonably estimate when the attendant home releases (and subsequent opportunity to talk about the different acts) can occur.

  • Retreating to the plains, BC Freedom Academy’s students begin singing a variation of the French song, Chant de l’Oignon (Song of the Onion). A funny-sounding song, it’s thought that the song came from Napoléon, who saw some of his soldiers adding onions to their bread and remarking on its taste. Napoléon replied that this was the taste of victory, and so, the march was born. This brings my Das Finale post for the first part to an end, and with the learnings from this writing this post, I think it’s safe to say that I will try and have Das Finale talks out within two to three days of the home release. Posts coming in the near future include a talk for Slow Start‘s finale and A Place Further Than The Universe‘s finale, but for now, it’s time to take a bit of a breather.

Consequently, with the first act of Das Finale in the books, it would not be surprising to anticipate that the remaining instalments will likely play out in a similar fashion. However, as we are only the equivalent of two episodes in, it is not appropriate to consider thematic elements that apply in Das Finale just yet; the journey is just getting started. With this being said, I will take the time now to note that I’ve got a bit of a love-hate relationship with Girls und Panzer; a technically superb series in characterisation, animation and sound engineering, Girls und Panzer is simultaneously stymied by a production challenges and a release pattern as uncertain as that of Half-Life 3. The long release time and decision to release Das Finale as six movies rather than a weekly programme makes it superbly difficult for the narrative to retain its momentum and draw anticipation in viewers. Similarly, one of Girls und Panzer‘s greatest strengths is the incredible attention paid to depicting the tanks and their engagements in a plausible manner, but the emphasis on detail also has created unrealistic expectations for what Girls und Panzer ought to be. For me, a credible advancement of the story and presentation of entertaining, logical stages in the narrative is more critical than whether or not the tanks and their operators behave precisely as they should in the real world. This particular perspective is not shared by everyone, and there have been some interesting situations where I’ve run into folks who believe that realism is paramount, to be favoured above all other elements in a show when determining its worth. Numerous disagreements about the characters’ behaviours and actions have surfaced over the years, and it’s a bit wearing to deal with individuals who are unwilling to look past this and consider Girls und Panzer as a whole. Summing this up, I love the series for what it is, but I’m not big on its release pattern and some members of the community. Overall, as Das Finale continues, a part of me would prefer that Girls und Panzer would have concluded with the film, sparing me both the long waits and the occasional lecture on why my beliefs make me unfit to count myself as human, but on the flipside, I am reasonably confident I’ll continue to enjoy Das Finale – the opening is off to a good start, and while the second act will release at an unknown date in the future, it will invariably deal with the outcome of the match between Ooarai and BC Freedom Academy.

Nekopara OVA Review and Reflection

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.” –Garrison Keillor

While unpacking in his new confectionery shop, La Soleil, Kashou Minaduki learns that Chocola and Vanilla, two of his family’s Nekos, have stowed away with him. Kashou is initially unwilling to let the two stay, but later relents and allows the two to remain with him upon seeing their determination. Kashou’s younger sister, Shigure, later visits with the other Nekos and remarks that for Chocola and Vanilla to work at La Soleil, Chocola and Vanilla will require a permit exam. Despite their initial difficulties, the two pass their exams, leading Kashou to bring Chocola and Vanilla to an amusement park and aquarium in celebration. When Kashou develops a fever from exhaustion later, Chocola and Vanilla try to reach a doctor’s clinic but forget to bring their bells with them. Kashou arrives and manages to sort things out before the authorities take them away. Later, Shigure decides to bring in the other Nekos to help out with work at La Soleil. With its origins in a series of visual novels, Nekopara‘s OVA was first announced in July 2016 in a crowd-funded project. Interest in an OVA became apparent when the crowd-funding campaign reached its goal within a day of launch, and the OVA itself was completed in November 2017. The OVA was scheduled for release on Boxing Day. During its fifty-minute run, the Nekopara OVA covers the first chapter of the visual novel (there are four in total), and for folks who’ve played through the game, one of the strongest aspects about the OVA is how faithful it is to the original.

At its core, Nekopara‘s OVA presents a gentle, heart-warming story about Kashou’s gradual acceptance of his Nekos in life at his confectionery shop and the misadventures that they share, along with their more tender moments. The OVA, and Nekopara itself, brings to mind the sort of antics seen in the animated series Nyanko Days. In both, anthropomorphic cats are present, with human-like traits and intellectual capacity. The similarities end here – whereas Nyanko Days is purely about the everyday lives of Yūko’s cats and features tiny Nyanko, the Neko of Nekopara are more similar to humans in stature to accommodate for the sort of narrative that Nekopara presents. With this in mind, the OVA is more family-friendly than the visual novel and therefore, more similar to Nyanko Days than its visual novel incarnation, preferring to focus on the adorable and amusing rather than the risque. However, because there is a male protagonist and human-like Nekos, as opposed to the kitten-like Nyanko, the OVA opens the floor to conventional jokes surrounding misunderstandings that are usually seen in romance-comedy anime. With this in mind, the OVA can be seen as either a fine addition into the Nekopara franchise for current fans of the visual novels, as well as being a bit of a barometer for the undecided to determine whether or not the Nekopara games are within the scope of their interests.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I suppose it would be fair to open with the remark that I’ve never actually seen “Neko” being used in plural as I have: in Japanese, we would probably say 猫たち (neko-tachi) to refer to cats in plural.  However, in this post, I will use it to refer to the cat-girls in plural for convenience’s sake. I’m not sure how exactly Nekos work from a evolutionary and biological perspective; they are human-like in anatomy save for their ears and tails, possess intelligence comparable to that of children and are omnivorous, but otherwise, their minds are cat-like. However, the documentation states that interbreeding between humans and Nekos are not possible, which technically should mean that Nekopara should be family-friendly through and through.

  • The protagonist, Kashou Minaduki, is a pâtissier who comes from a family of Japanese chefs and is distant with his parents for his interests. Resembling Itsuki Koizumi of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Kashou is the generic protagonist and is unremarkable. Chocola is the first of the Nekos seen in Nekopara: she is the more energetic and outgoing compared to her twin, Vanilla. The two Nekos are the youngest the Minaduki family has: Kashou and his sister found them around nine months ago, and they have been caring for the Nekos ever since.

  • One aspect about Nekopara‘s game form is that it makes use of 3D animated characters, in contrast to static 2D characters of traditional visual novels. As a result, there’s a slider for altering the modulus of rigidity in the game, which is utterly pointless: I bet that in Nekopara, elasticity is a pre-rendered animation rather than involving real-time physics calculations, so changing the settings with the aim of stress-testing a computer set up isn’t even worth it. With this in mind, if I should ever decide to buy Nekopara, I’m going to set the modulus of rigidity to zero: Chocola and Vanilla don’t exactly require any other setting, and soft-body dynamics is computationally expensive.

  • A miscommunication results in the delivery of additional hardware to La Soleil, and while a Herculean task seemingly awaits Kashou, Chocola and Vanilla lend their skills towards sorting out the boxes to find the ones containing Kashou’s orders in an efficient manner, leading to much happiness from the delivery lady.

  • While Kashou is initially not keen on keeping Chocola and Vanilla around, Chocola up front lets Kashou know that he means a great deal to both of them, recalling a story where he looked after the two and brought them to the hospital after the two fell ill from a combination of stress, cold and a weakened constitution. In a moving display of kindness that Kashou counts as common sense, Chocola and Vanilla would recover and became quite fond of Kashou, to the point of following him when he moves out to open La Soleil. It takes some negotiations, but Kashou eventually relents and allows the two to live with him.

  • Kashou reluctantly agrees to let Vanilla and Chocola help him out at La Soleil. They run into a strangely-attired customer later revealed to be Kashou’s younger sister. A capable Neko owner and elegant in her own manner, Shigure is responsible for training the family’s Nekos. In the OVA, she’s quite ordinary, although in the visual novel, it’s said that she holds unrequited feelings for Kashou, which doesn’t appear to be a rational narrative device considering what Nekopara is about.

  • From left to right, the other Nekos in Nekopara are Maple, Cinnamon, Azuki and Coconut (Shigure is in the middle, wearing the kamino). Each of the cats sports a bell that signifies their qualification to hold what Nekopara calls an “Independent Action Permit” (abbreviated IAP for short and not to be confused with the shorthand for “In App Purchase”), which allows a Neko to travel alone without human supervision. In order to have Chocola and Vanilla helping out at La Soleil, the two must also pass an examination to hold an IAP.

  • Nekos have a modified digestive system that allow them to enjoy cakes and tea along with food more consistent with what cats should be given. It should go without saying that Nekopara is the last place on earth one should go to learn about cats – cats have no sweet receptors and won’t enjoy sweets the same way humans would. Further, the presence of dairy products in cake can be cause digestive issues for cats, and theobromine in chocolate can be lethal. Of course, this would result in a dull visual novel.

  • Cinammon (to the right) is the third oldest of the Nekos and here, is seen giving Vanilla a crash course on flowers, somehow becoming turned on at the thought of reproduction. It brings to mind the jokes that I sat through as a high school student in biology, where my instructor remarked that only an ineffective instructor would be distracted by reproductive biology and said that from scientific perspective, there should be nothing particularly embarrassing as to how life works. Having said this, while I’m not particularly bothered by what would be considered indecent, there is a limit to what I can and can’t show on this blog in order to maintain the PG-13 rating.

  • N. cataria has a profound effect on Chocola and Vanilla, who are affected by the nepetalactone present. The compound, a two-ringed, ten carbon molecule, produces a relaxing effect in cats in conjunction with sleepiness and drooling. Nepetalactone has no impact on humans owing to physiological differences, so it stands to reason that Nekos likely have a different nervous system composition than humans despite their physical similarities. Curiously enough, nepetalactone doesn’t seem to affect a third of all cats, and this is apparently not Mendelian trait.

  • I have a feeling that the sustained application of science will outright ruin Nekopara: the origins of Nekos and the implications on technological levels in society would probably cause readers to count me a non-team player, a wet blanket. This is because if we could genetically engineer a species with human and cat-like traits as having near-human intelligence, it would imply that our medical knowledge is remarkably sophisticated. This would then raise the question of why things like FTL and fusion are not present in Nekopara. Hereafter, I’m going to do my best not to mention scientific elements in too much more details from here on out and return things to the OVA, where Chocola and Vanilla are shown to have successfully passed their IAP exam.

  • As a celebration, Kashou takes Chocola and Vanilla to an amusement park, which Chocola has expressed an interest in visiting. Most apparent in this scene is the level of detail and intricacy in both Chocola and Vanilla’s dresses. At the time of writing, the Nekopara OVA is only available on Steam to the wider world and retails for 34 CAD, which is only slightly less than the Nekopara bundle, which costs 36 CAD in the absence of a sale (for a scant 18 CAD, one can buy all four volumes of Nekopara on Steam during a sale).

  • Today’s been a bit of a more festive one: I spent most of it at a New Year’s Eve brunch. After driving the treacherous roads to get there, I settled down to the warmth of home-made Eggs Benedict, turkey bacon, potato pancakes and hash browns, plus the most impressive array of cookies, Nanamo Bars and other sweets I’ve seen in a while. Conversation during this brunch lasted into the late afternoon, during which the weather remained incredibly frigid (-29°C before windchill).

  • Once I got back home, it was very nearly evening, and I arrived just in time for my family’s annual 火鍋 (jyutping fo2 wo1, better known as “hot pot”, and folks familiar with anime will refer to it as nabe even though the Chinese version isn’t really thus). The combination of a warm soup with beef, lamb, chicken, shrimp, fresh scallops, squid, fish ballsbak choy, cabbage and lettuce, plus yi mein, is the perfect ward for the cold winter’s evening, and with dinner now done, it’s time to watch as the final hours of 2017 draw to a close.

  • After their outing to the aquarium, Kashou develops a fever that greatly concerns Chocola and Vanilla. Their understanding of human health being limited, they attempt to call for medical assistance upon seeing Kashou’s state, as opposed to letting him sleep it off. Typically, bed rest and hydration is the best initial means of dealing with a fever – medical attention is sought if the fever is very severe or persistent. After Kashou falls asleep, Chocola and Vanilla head into the night to reach a clinic.

  • While Nekopara may not have Makoto Shinkai or Kyoto Animation level visuals, the simple, clean artwork works in the OVA’s favour. I took a quick glance at the Steam system requirements for Nekopara‘s OVA, and they’re identical to K-On! The Movie, which is also available on Steam. The act of streaming videos is not a particularly demanding task: any dual core CPU, 2 GB of RAM, 500 MB of space (presumably to act as a cache) and a 12 Mbps connection will be sufficient for enjoying anime from Steam.

  • Shigure and the remaining Nekos decide to join the ranks of employees at La Soleil, much to Kashou’s surprise. This sets in motion the whacky antics that are seen in the remainder of Nekopara, and given the setup, I imagine that the OVA was largely intended to be a bit of promotion for newcomers such as myself as much as it is intended to entertain current fans of the game.

  • With the entire family of Nekos geared up and ready to help, the stage is set for later volumes of Nekopara, which deal with the antics surrounding Kashou as he acclimatises to Nekos working at his confectionary shop. As a kinetic novel, Nekopara has no branching decisions and can be seen as an electronic story of sorts. In a manner of speaking, the OVA and game are different interpretations of the same story, and if the OVA had been more extensive, I would likely prefer watching the OVA to playing the game.

  • From the perspective of those who’ve played Nekopara and subsequently watched the OVA, the OVA seems to have done a passable job of bringing Nekopara to life in the anime format. While not perfect, these individuals have found it entertaining. From my perspective, which is that of someone who’s seen the OVA and are wondering about the game, I think that the OVA could inspire some to pick up all four volumes of Nekopara and give things a whirl to see what happens at La Soleil after all of the Nekos come on board. However, for me, I have my own reasons for not buying Nekopara: for one, I feel that my Steam library has hit saturation, and there are simply no more games that I’m keen on checking out for the present.

  • The exterior of La Soleil is simple and clean, set in front of a backdrop of skyscrapers. It’s well designed and aesthetically pleasing, so I figured I would feature at least one screenshot of it during this discussion, which now comes to an end. This is my final talk for 2017, and I am going to spend the remaining few hours of the year taking it easy. Upcoming posts to kick off 2018 will include Wolfenstein II‘s Uberkommando and Episode Zero talks, the final impressions for Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! and the final episode of Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter. I also have plans to write about Violet EvergardenYuru Camp and Slow Start in the upcoming season.

One of the more interesting elements in the OVA that the world that Kashou inhabits feels much more lively relative to the visual novel. This aspect is likely by design – in the visual novel, the absence of other inhabitants save mission-critical characters places greater emphasis on Kashou and his Nekos, as well as reducing the amount of resources spent drawing extras. However, the animated format has additional background characters to give the sense that there is a world beyond the characters players interact with. This is one of the strengths of the animated format confers for adapting visual novels: the worlds that characters live in can be made to feel a bit more alive. The OVA certainly has done a solid job of bringing Kashou’s world to life: while nothing groundbreaking or remarkable, the visual quality and artwork in the Nekopara are of a high standard, as are the aural elements. Overall, the Nekopara OVA succinctly captures the basics of Nekopara in a modestly entertaining fashion, and here, I remark that while the OVA was fun to watch, I’m not too sure if I will be adding Nekopara to a Steam library whose existing titles include DOOM, Half-Life 2 and Far Cry 4 in the foreseeable future: I prefer my games to involve über-micro, after all.

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

“Where is Taki’s apartment located?”

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

Locating Taki’s Apartment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Giant Flythough Kimi no Na Wa

During the opening credits to Your Name, there’s also a brief moment where the camera flies from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo, through the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, out to rural Japan and eventually, Itomori (Fig XVI). This is undoubtedly an impressive feat of animation and a visual treat to behold on its own, but there is a pleasant surprise to this, as well – if one were to project a line from Taki’s apartment in the heading as depicted in the film, they would end up in Hida, Gifu, passing over Lake Suwa along the way (Fig XVII, XVIII). In total, roughly 237 kilometers of distance separates the location of Taki’s apartment in Tokyo from Hida in the Gifu prefecture. While some might consider this a mere coincidence, the level of detail Makoto Shinkai and his team put into their art is nothing short of exceptional, so I imagine that this was a deliberate design in keeping with the thematic elements within the movie. Whereas Shinkai’s earlier themes were more about distance, Your Name deals predominantly with connections and how distances can be closed: the Chinese term “緣份” (jyutping jyun4 fan6, “fate”) describes the movie neatly, as it appears that supernatural forces compel Taki and Mitsuha to meet. That their homes lie along the same line is a clever element added to the film, and while subtle, serves to reinforce notions that Taki and Mitsuha must meet in order to convey the thematic elements in the movie. With this in mind, it is likely that Shinkai and his team worked backwards, choosing the rural location and then corresponding it with a location in Tokyo; it is considerably more difficult to pick a rural location suitable for Mitsuha, whereas in Tokyo, the dense urban build-up means that Taki could have been placed anywhere in central Tokyo without any substantial impact to the narrative.

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

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

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

Closing Remarks

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

New Game!!- Final Review and Reflections

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” —Benjamin Franklin

Tsubame is faced with challenges after presenting her mini-game, and is given additional features to implement, while Nene pushes on with her own assignment to build a physics game prototype. Impressed that Nene has satisfied the minimum requirements and went the extra mile, Umiko encourages Nene to continue exploring, assigning her to a debugging and testing role. Later, Rin and Kō share an evening together at the office. Later, Nene learns from Momiji that Tsubame’s determination to make it as a programmer stems from her background and a desire to step away from the family business. When Umiko and her team discover bugs in Tsubame’s work, Nene decides to help with the process and they manage to debug things fully before the deadline. The two reconcile and participate in a demonstration of the final product prior to shipping it. Rin becomes dismayed to learn that Kō has plans to leave Eagle Jump. After their promotional event, where Kō gives credit to Aoba for her role in making the artwork possible, she reveals to the company that she intends to leave for France to further her skills, inspired by Aoba’s drive to improve. On the day of departure, the entire art department, with Umiko, Nene and Tsubame, come to bid Kō farewell. When Eagle Jump’s latest title goes on sale, it is well-received, inspiring Aoba to continue working harder. This is the gist of what happens in New Game!!‘s final quarter; with a solid conclusion, the second season comes to a close. With its depiction of interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, New Game!! manages to differentiate itself from its first season, which had a heavier emphasis on comedy. This is in keeping with anime adaptations of Manga Time Kirara works: after establishment in the first season, the anime can take a new direction in allowing characters to explore a more diverse set of interactions to ensure that the continuation is novel.

In New Game!!, the overarching theme is improvement. Complacency leads to a lack of innovation, which is essential in an ever-shifting market, and as such, New Game!! aims to show the importance of striving to further one’s craft, whether it be through Aoba, whose determination to better her skills as an artist to have the same impact on customers that Kō had, or through Nene, who is constantly working to become a better programmer and pursue her dreams of working alongside Aoba someday. Through long hours, conversations with their seniors and taking a step back to keep the big picture in mind when things get tough, their spirits have a profound impact on those around them. Aoba, despite being the junior, inspires Kō to develop her skills and talents by travelling overseas to learn: watching Aoba’s persistence leads her to feel that she’s become complacent, and that Eagle Jump might no longer allow her to reach further. This constant drive of betterment is an admirable one, being a mindset that can create new opportunity, and through its combination of more serious moments with the light-hearted ones, New Game!! captures this particular message in a succinct and approachable manner. The second season certainly presents a more tangible idea than its predecessor, and on the whole, this was a fantastic series to watch for portraying the sort of journey people might take while pursuing their goals.

“I also dabble in empathy, and if you think you can even consider denying Tsubame with your sad, maladjusted caveman beliefs and a few seconds of conversation, you’re the reason this species is a failure, and it makes me angry!” —Rick Sanchez, Morty’s Mind-Blowers, Rick and Morty

A secondary theme in New Game!! is related to Tsubame and Nene: while Momoji and Aoba end up being friendly rivals early on, with Momiji becoming reluctantly admiring of Aoba’s work and work ethic, Tsubame is initially hostile to Nene. While Nene takes this as a sign to further her own skill in programming, the relationship between Nene and Tsubame take an immediate turn once Nene learns about Tsubame’s background, and when Tsubame fails in her assignment, Nene is more than understanding, reaching out to give her a hand. Tsubame, for her earlier perceptions of Nene, realises that Nene isn’t an enemy, and the two work together to complete a shared goal. By the end of New Game!!, the journey that these two share towards a common objective also allow them to better understand one another; they’re certainly on cordial terms, if not friends, by the finale. Through Nene and Tsubame, New Game!! shows one possible path in conflict resolution, as well as how situations make it necessary for people to work with one another for the team’s sake, and how in doing so, people can set aside personal differences to succeed together. The message here is consistent with the overall objectives and directions in New Game!!, reinforcing how working with an established group of characters and introducing a small number of new characters can give sequels an exciting new direction, allowing them to differentiate themselves from their predecessors. Consequently, when I hear assertions that Tsubame is somehow unfit to be an Eagle Jump employee or similar, I am inclined to dismiss these claims. One of the more blatant offenders has gone so far as to say that, in Nene’s place, they would “would have take adventage[sic] of the mistake and finish of [sic] destroy you”. The individual is plainly lacking in basic human decency and patience: this is most certainly not a team-oriented behaviour; to hire folks with this sort of attitude would be detrimental to the team and company, and it is unlikely people who act out these beliefs would find success. The quote above, sourced from Rick and Morty, mirrors my perspectives on such individuals. Conversely, what occurs in New Game!! is precisely in keeping with the themes the anime has sought to present: Nene puts aside her personal differences to help Tsubame out because it’s for the company’s benefit, and there’s the bonus of her reconciling with Tsubame in the process, reinforcing themes established within the second season.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The reality of things is that requirements continue to shift as a project advances, and it’s up to project managers and team leaders to determine how to best accommodate the changes without compromising the programmers. In New Game!!, such moments are intentionally played for humour, and one of the aspects about the second season that I particularly enjoyed was the frequent switches between more serious and relaxed moments. Overall, New Game!! retains the lighter tones of its predecessor, but expands upon character interactions and conflicts to keep things entertaining.

  • One of the things about New Game!! is that, while the anime itself is of a high standard and enjoyable on all counts, there are some parts of the community discussing the anime that hold themselves in too high of regards. In my previous New Game!! post, where I presented my thoughts on why Tsubame’s actions are appropriate from a narrative perspective, an individual countered that Tsubame should continue to be regarded as “worst girl” on virtue that their conflict was inconsistent with the themes in New Game!!. The individual further asserts that it’s possible for a few seconds to ruin an entire anime.

  • I’ve not heard from them since, but the events of New Game!! have shown that my assertions, not theirs, ended up being true. This demonstrates that New Game!!‘s writers understand how to go about presenting themes that span across a series; conversely, people who contend that “a few minutes (or even seconds) can potentially ruin a show” are narrow-minded to be making a judgement before the entire series of events is presented. Back in New Game!!, in exchange for a nabe at Yun’s place, Hajime gives her a toy sword for one of Yun’s siblings.

  • After hours, Aoba and Nene go out for dinner. The finale for New Game!! came out a little less than a week ago, but on my end, things have been quite busy. Between work, a growing cold, the Battlefield 1 BattleFest event and the Call of Duty: WWII Open Beta, there’s been precious little time to put a discussion together. However, I figured that I should probably roll mine out the gates so that I do not get inundated with incomplete drafts once October comes full-swing – while the Call of Duty: WWII Open Beta is running until October 2, I’ve found the Call of Duty-style mechanics and map design not to my liking compared to the approaches seen in Battlefield 1.

  • I’ll discuss my full thoughts on Call of Duty: WWII in a separate post. After everyone’s left, Rin and Kō share a moment together, with Kō giving Rin a gift under soft candlelight. Kō prepares to spend the night and begins stripping down, leading to much embarrassment from Rin when she sees Kō in her pantsu, but owing to my limited desire to make another 40-image post, I’ve omitted that moment from this discussion: this final impressions talk on New Game!! will have the standard of thirty images.

  • After palatable tensions lead Nene to work in the canteen, she runs into Momiji and Kō. It is here that she learns of Tsubame’s background; she’d taken up programming and is intent on excelling so she can find employment such that she is not relegated to taking up a post at the family inn. Nene understands the situation Tsubame is in, and all irritation with her evaporates. With this evaporation comes evaporation of all remarks from the individual in my comments earlier – I’m genuinely curious to hear their thoughts on developments.

  • Later, Nene is recalled to the office after Umiko learns that Tsubame’s work is riddled with bugs. Tsubame reveals that in the name of speed, she only tested more obvious cases, leaving boundary conditions untested. One of the more arrogant viewers have said “that was too newbie of a mistake for [them] to take when [they were] at Tsubame’s age”, and I find myself disappointed with some parts of the community again – the individual in question has no experience in programming or software development (akin to if I start talking about statically indeterminate structures despite having no engineering knowledge). Conversely, I feel that the reason why this occurs is because of Tsubame’s ego coming ahead of her judgement, done to advance the narrative rather than because Tsubame “deserved it”. In this moment, she realises the scope of what’s happened and fears the worst, that her career ends here.

  • Nene steps up to the plate and resolves to help Tsubame fix things; when Tsubame asks why Nene is doing this, Nene responds that while she did hate Tsubame, learning of her story and helping the team out is what prompts her decision. Ultimately, it is this moment that handily disproves assertions that “Tsubame is worst girl” or similar: she turns around and accepts Nene’s kindness, understanding that her own actions and decisions must be for the team’s, rather than her own, benefit. This growth from Tsubame contributes to the messages that New Game!! aims to convey.

  • With no time to lose, Umiko gives Nene and Tsubame their assignment. With their newfound resolve to work on the necessary fixes and plenty of Red Bull, they work late into the evening. It is here that I note that every developer and programmer has their own preferred stress-management measures for working under pressure. While my coworkers enjoy their Kurigs, I personally dislike coffee for its effects on my renal system and for the fact it makes me jittery long after the boost has allowed me to finish a task. Instead, I prefer a good tea and a ultra-sonic humidifier in my face to keep me refreshed. Red Bull is not an option for me, being a concoction of concentrated caffeine and sugar that would be akin to drinking coffee with worse side effects, and because I do not agree with their marketing methodology.

  • After much sweat and tears (this isn’t a war, so there’s no blood), Nene and Tsubame submit clean code with no bugs. The term is often thrown around by people whose expertise lie outside of the term, but strictly speaking, “bug free code” is code that does not exist and is not written. Instead, a good developer knows that any piece of non-trivial software, while never truly be bug-free, can and should be tested, updated and improved so that the end-user has a good experience. Nene and Tsubame will continue down this path of improvement as they continue to work together, and while Nene longs to become a developer, her role in software QA is no less important.

  • With ten days left to deployment, the entire art and programming team gather to test the deployment version of PECO out. In this moment, a lava lamp is visible; back when I was with the university, I brought in a lava lamp to act as decoration for my work area. I would stare at it while contemplating features or required bug fixes for the Giant Walkthrough Brain. The lamp inspired one of my colleagues to get a little USB-powered plasma globe.

  • Nene and Aoba watch during a demonstration of their final deployment version of PECO. I’ve not mentioned the game by name until now primarily because the nature of PECO has not been relevant to discussions; for completeness’ sake, PECO is an RPG where the goal is to infiltrate a world of plushies and liberate it from an evil sorceress, brutally ripping apart plushies with the same violence as the Doom Slayer does to Hell’s Dæmons, to gain their powers and blend in with the environment.

  • At a press conference, Kō is asked to take centre stage and recount her experiences with the art in the game. At Eagle Jump, it would appear that there is no dedicated department for handling the story and world-building of the game; we’ve seen each of Aoba, Hajime and the others contribute in their own way to the story within PECO. Is PECO the sort of game that I would buy and play? Aoba and the Eagle Jump team’s efforts notwithstanding, the answer is “maybe, during a sale”: PECO is not of the genre I typically enjoying playing, and to buy it at full price without understanding what the game entails is not how I typically roll.

  • During presentations such as E3, gameplay is typically demonstrated, but in New Game!!, none is shown. The E3 of this year was quite exciting: I’m most looking forwards to Wolfenstein II: The New ColossusFar Cry 5Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown and Metro: Exodus, and with the release date on Wolfenstein II coming this month, I’m looking forwards to seeing if the game is worth the price of admissions close to launch. I’ve seen some new footage as of late, and the game itself looks stunning.

  • The magic moment of Kō’s speech comes when she asks Aoba to join her on stage. Appreciative and understanding of the efforts that Aoba put in to make PECO happen, even though Aoba was never credited with the original ideas or allowed to submit promotional artwork for the game, Kō decides to express her thanks and acknowledge Aoba’s contributions in front of an audience. It’s the recognition that Kō feels Aoba deserves, and illustrates the extent that Kō cares for Aoba and her development as a professional character artist.

  • It is clever and appropriate that Aoba’s efforts come back in the finale to their fullest; many viewers felt vindicated after seeing this, as they’d felt shafted when publishers adamantly refused to have Aoba’s work or name mentioned anywhere, fearing that sales might take a hit if a new designer were to be named as in charge of the project. Of course, with the media aware of Aoba now, the market’s confidence in a game bearing Aoba’s name in the credits is slightly stronger, marking the beginning of growth in her career.

  • While New Game!! could have ended here and now, there is one more thing on the table: Kō had revealed to Rin her intents to leave Eagle Jump prior to their press conference. Looking back, Kō’s decision to have Hifumi act as team lead and giving Aoba a chance to drive character designs, were made to determine if her team could function on their own without her, indicating that Kō has been interested in pursuing a career elsewhere for some time. It’s the final conflict in New Game!!, disrupting the status quo and forces the entire art team to grow into Kō’s shoes, now that their leading talent has decided to seek new opportunities.

  • It turns out that Kō is leaving for a company in France. The name is not explicitly mentioned, but the one company where Kō can develop her skills further is Ubisoft, a veritable giant behind Tom Clancy branded games, as well as the Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed franchises. The sheer diversity of games they publish, plus the fact that they have their own in-house development team means that Kō is likely working with Ubisoft in Rennes, rather than for one of their subsidiaries. While visibly saddened by this announcement, Shizuku decides to drive things ahead and plans a combined launch-and-farewell party. In the final half of New Game!!‘s finale, the mood changes between the maudlin and irreverent at the drop of a hat: the sudden transitions can be a bit jarring and brings to mind Futurama‘s iHawk, who had an actual switch that allowed him to go from being saddened by warfare in one moment to cracking jokes the next.

  • In spite of Kō’s impending departure, she’s rather ill-prepared, leaving it to Rin to pick up after her. They’re celebrating at a nabe place here, bringing to mind the nabe place I visited in Kyoto back in May after touring the Kinkakuji. One of the challenges was sitting down on the floor to eat, and since my joints don’t move that way, seiza is out of the question for me, leaving me with the agura position instead. I imagine that here, Aoba and the others are sitting normally, since the restaurant has a sunken floor below the low table. I am much more familiar with conventional tables, if only for the fact that I can eat more while sitting upright: despite an insane cold, I was able to fully enjoy dinner last night at a restaurant I’d not visited for quite some time. Their dishes are seasoned and cooked well, incredibly flavourful and in large portions: we had 金沙蝦, duck in a savoury sauce, pea-shoots with abalone, fresh fish, one of the absolute best 小炒王 dishes I’ve ever had, 咕噜肉 and 乾燒伊麵.

  • After dinner concludes, half of the characters are hammered: Hajime is supporting Yun, and Christina has devolved into a drunken rant of sorts. Television as a whole depicts ours as a drinking society; I’ve noticed that beers come out pretty frequently in New Game!!, as well as in the likes of Sakura QuestFuturamaSimpsonsRick and Morty and the like. I’ve never really had any problems with avoiding drinks at social gatherings: the unique combination of being the designated driver and a biologically-valid explanation is sufficient to get people to understand why I don’t drink. Of course, there are exceptions: I won’t mind cracking a champaign, cuba libre or lemon daiquiri on special occasions.

  • Rin’s feelings and longing finally come out in full force; she tearfully asks Kō not to leave. From a certain perspective, it is possible to simply say that Rin’s very fond of Kō as a friend and is not mentally prepared to deal with a world where she’s not there to look after Kō. However, my perspective seems to be the minority; most folks find that Rin sees Kō in a romantic light. New Game!! certainly does seem to convey this through Rin’s reactions of jealousy and bashfulness where Kō is involved, but on my end, I’ve never been too concerned with this sort of thing because of its limited impact on the narrative as a whole.

  • There’s probably a detailed, technical explanation from an evolutionary biology perspective as to why male members of a mammalian species find female interactions to be more interesting; if it exists, I’ve not learned about it yet. Apparently, this pattern extends beyond H. sapiens, if the book “Fish That Fake Orgasms and Other Zoological Curiosities” is to be believed. However, to explore that would be going well outside of what is within the realm of what New Game!! is about, so I’ll return things to the point where Rin and Kō reach an understanding with the arrangements in the days coming.

  • To clasp hands as Rin and Kō are doing is probably a sign of trust: in Gōjū-ryū, there’s an arm lock technique that involves interlocking someone’s fingers in a similar position, with the result that any application of force can prove very persuasive. Our seniors joke that there’s hardly any application for the move, except when one might have an incapacitated opponent and no hand-cuffs on hand. Right when things between Kō and Rin begin to get a little more interesting, Shizuku and Christina march off into the night, shattering any mood that has accumulated during Rin and Kō’s conversation. Careful inspection of this screenshot will find that Rin is blushing through her hair somehow;

  • Aoba is rather similar to K-On!‘s Azusa Nakano in appearance and manner, as well as for being viewed as kitten-like in their presence. Unlike Azusa, Aoba is a bit more truthful about how she feels with respect to those around her. When running into Momiji the next day at work, Momiji coaxes out of Aoba that the latter has many unsaid things on her mind, once the waterworks start coming out when Aoba begins stroking Mozuku, and on the spur of the moment, decides to go to the airport to see Kō off.

  • One of the things about Japan and Hong Kong that I am particularly envious about is the extent and efficiency of their mass transit infrastructure. In Hong Kong, the Airport Express MTR line (機場快綫) makes it possible to go from Central out to the airport in no time at all, and I imagine that there are efficient train lines in Tokyo, as well. By comparison, the LRT line does not even reach the airport; folks travelling between the Core and the airport are dependent on a dedicated bus line, and the existing bus services only cover the city’s northern end. On the plus side, Calgary is not so obscenely large yet that travelling from one side of the city to the other requires more than an hour.

  • The last time I made mention of this was back during the Someone’s Gaze talk: four years may have elapsed since I wrote that post, and while I might be a bit more well-travelled now compared to my self of four years ago, my old assertion still holds true – airports really are places where tears may be shed for sadness surrounding a departure and happiness from a reunion. In New Game!!, it is the former, and despite her initial hesitancy, Aoba finally lets out how she feels about Kō. Conversely, all Momiji can think about is how Kō will order food once she’s in France.

  • Despite all of Kō’s shortcomings as a person, from her sloppy manner and casual attitude, Aoba has learned more from Kō over the past year than she’d ever anticipated and has come to see Kō as a role model. Aoba even takes a leaf from Tom Clancy’s playbook, calling Kō a “ばかやろう” out of frustration that she’s departing to fulfil her own dreams at the expense of leaving everyone behind. Moved by Aoba, Kō explains to Aoba that it is actually seeing Aoba’s ceaseless determination to improve that led her to decide to seek new pastures; while Kō’s enjoyed working at Eagle Jump greatly, seeing the same scenery means she’s reached a sort of plateau with respect to what she can improve upon as a character artist, and a completely different environment is likely what it will take for Kō to further her skills.

  • Some folks wonder why Kō has chosen France and western games, believing that working on Rainbow Six Siege or Far Cry character models might “ruin” her skill, but I argue that this is a suitable change of scenery, since some western elements can feed back into the anime art style and bolster Kō’s ability to work with different character designs. Western art is certainly not “dropped drastically in these recent 5-10 years” to the point where there’s “nothing to learn from them anymore”: the number of counterexamples are limitless, including the work that DICE and Machine Games produce. If anything, Western games are far more sophisticated from a mechanical and technical perspective than Japanese games, which tend to have more involved narratives and memorable art styles. I argue that both Japanese and Western games can learn from one another, taking advances and innovations to produce games that are increasingly enjoyable to experience.

  • The entire party shows up after Kō shares a final conversation with Aoba to see her off, and this departure is one of optimism, as everyone wishes Kō the best of luck in her new endeavours. It’s a fitting end to New Game!!, and with it, comes the ending of this post. It means I can go back to sleeping it off: the signs of a cold started on Thursday, but I figured it was minor right up until yesterday, when I began aching all around. I’m hoping that fluids and sleep will be sufficient to fight it off, but this cold’s been pretty strong, even closing off my airways. While being sick is unpleasant, I’m glad that I got sick now, as opposed to next week, which is Thanksgiving and when the Star Wars Battlefront II open beta is available.

  • I can’t believe it’s October already: my review of New Game! last year was posted in September. When New Game!‘s first season ended, I remarked that it was a fun series that was unexpectedly entertaining. The first season would probably earn a B+ on my grading system. The second season earns an A for taking a familiar concept and successfully treading new ground with it, strengthening the sort of themes that are conveyed throughout the anime. With both seasons in the books, my new verdict is that the first season is now worth watching because it sets the stage for the second.

With New Game!! over, I am going to miss watching Aoba, Nene and the others work towards their goals. However, one thing I definitely won’t miss will be the parts of the community that take the fun out of New Game!. On the whole, New Game!! proved to be very entertaining for crafting new character dynamics and exploring aspects of Eagle Jump that audiences did not see in the first season. It’s easy to recommend this anime for folks who enjoyed the first season; the second season does not disappoint in its execution. For those who’ve been on the fence about New Game! as a whole, the build-up in season one yields a payoff in the second season, and it is worthwhile to get acquainted with New Game!’s characters before dropping into the more thematically solid second season. I’ve read that New Game!! covers events right up until the sixth volume, which released a mere three months ago. With this in mind, a continuation of New Game!!, in the form of a third season, is unlikely to materialise until there’s more material to adapt. Having said this, there is a spin-off of volume five, which leads to the possibility of there being an OVA at some point in the future. For the time being, New Game!! ends on a high note, and it’s certainly been an enjoyable ride to see Aoba and the others work on games and continue growing as they move further in their careers.

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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