The Infinite Zenith

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We Are Wake Up, Girls!- Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! First Episode Impressions

“In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.” –Carl Sagan

Since WUG’s successful performance at the Idol Festival, where they displaced I-1 Club in a competition to become the national champions, difficult times forces even I-1 Club to close one of their venues. Without any performances, WUG’s exposure to the world is limited, and the girls have returned to their old duties of being local idols for various media outlets. To break them from this rut, Junko announces that WUG is to produce an album within the next six months and later secures a performance for them at Song Stage. When they gear up, they learn their old uniforms have decayed in condition: Yoshino fashions scrunchies for each and every member to remind them of their origins. At the performance venue, Mayu and the others run into the current I-1 unit, whose centre regards them with hostility. While Airi nearly causes a delay in their live performance by rushing back to retrieve her scrunchie, WUG nonetheless performs well and later, the others reassure Airi that superstition prior to performances is a natural thing, gently reminding her to be more mindful of professionalism at the same time. On the way back home, Junko announces to an exhausted Kōhei that she is planning a national tour for WUG. Meanwhile, a group of students produce fan-inspired versions of WUG’s performances, drawing the girls’ and Kōhei’s attention. It’s been a while since I’ve written about Wake Up, Girls!, with the last time being for the second movie Beyond The Bottom. A series that has held a special place in my heart, Wake Up, Girls! makes a triumphant return to the anime form, with this second season being produced by Millepensee, which collaborated with Ordet on the movies.

Ordet themselves worked with Tatsunoko Production on the first season, and while this first season was characterised by deficiencies in the animation, Wake Up, Girls! and its narrative proved quite enjoyable, inspiring to follow. The new animation style that Millepensee brings to the table is a balance between the old and new: the characters look and sound as they did during the movies and first anime season, but with more fluid animation, it feels as though they’ve been given new life. It is most welcoming to see Mayu, Minami, Yoshino, Nanami, Airi, Miyu and Kaya return in this new form: their first performance is a smooth one, with camera effects and movements that far surpass what was seen in earlier incarnations of Wake Up, Girls!. The improved animation, coupled with new directions of Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! (New Chapter! from here on out for brevity), means that the second season is off to a fine start – Wake Up, Girls! has always added a healthy amount of realism into its story, and in spite of their successes, WUG has a ways to go in order to sustain their success in a market saturated with idols. By presenting plausible set-backs and challenges, it was remarkably satisfying to see how WUG overcame their tribulations, and New Chapter! appears to be continuing along this path, which corresponds with more surprises in this upcoming season.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • A quick memory test for myself: from left to right, we have Yoshino, Minami, Airi, Mayu, Nanami, Miyu and Kaya. One of the biggest challenges I face when writing for Wake Up, Girls! is recalling who’s who: Minami and Nanami share very similar romanised names, as do Mayu and Miyu. Their character designs have also been quite similar, but with Millepensee stepping up to the plate for animation in New Chapter!, the characters look a bit more distinct from one another without losing their basic designs seen in the anime and first season.

  • As the opening episode discussion, I’ve opted to go with the usual twenty screenshots, striking a balance between details and ease of writing on my end. Here, Junko reads about the declining I-1 Club in a newspaper article before addressing WUG. WUG’s president, Junko handles dealing with partners and associates, and despite her brash personality, she always manages to find ways of helping WUG get started with their goals. Kōhei is WUG’s manager and has the group’s interests at heart, having brought all seven idols together during the prequel movie.

  • WUG is based in Sendai of Miyagi Prefecture. With a population of just south of 1.1 million, Sendai is only a shade smaller than Calgary, which has a population of 1.2 million. Nonetheless, Sendai depicted as a “small” town in Wake Up, Girls!, compared to the likes of Tokyo. The area was damaged during the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake, and I vaguely recall that the anime project was originally intended to recruit voice talent in the Sendai area and promote the region as a part of a recovery project.

  • Itsuka Atsugi, Otome Morishima and Ayumi Hayashi are three new characters in New Chapter! – their family names mirror those of their voice actors (Nanami Atsugi, Yūka Morishima and Yūka Morishima, respectively). Junior high students who’ve been inspired greatly by WUG, they’ve taken to doing their own performances and uploading them to YouTube. At the episode’s opening, Minami and the others dub over the performance while watching it, and Kōhei remarks that the appearance of fan videos are a sign that WUG’s having some tangible impact on its viewers in inspiring them.

  • After practise, Junko announces that she’s managed to get WUG a performance slot in the Song Stage programme, marking the group’s first live performance since the events of Beyond the Bottom. The girls are naturally excited and their first query is whether or not their old uniforms are in any shape to be utilised for their performance. However, their age (three-and-a-half years in real time) means that they’re frayed and otherwise don’t fit all that well, as Kaya quickly finds out.

  • When Miyu inquires further, Kaya suppresses all further discussion. The oldest member of WUG, Kaya, reminds me of Glasslip‘s Yanagi Takayama in appearance and even shares Yanagi’s hobby of jogging. As a result of her age, she’s looked to as the de facto second-in-command after Yoshino, and originally did not take her role in WUG too seriously, but her time with the group has led her to be much more devoted and passionate. By the events of New Chapter!, even Airi has improved to the point where she can keep up with Mayu and Yoshino.

  • Junko authorises new uniforms for the girls, to their excitement. In this first episode of New Chapter!, song producer Tasuku does not make an appearance. It is with his trying approach of management that leads WUG to improve dramatically, and while presenting an oft-indifferent air to the girls’ fates, he grows to respect their tenacity greatly, expressing disappointment whenever they fail and is genuinely happy when WUG’s performances are successful. Since the events of Beyond the Bottom, Junko’s gotten in touch with some old friends to help with writing and scoring music, so presumably, Tasuku will make fewer appearances this season.

  • The page quote for our return to Wake Up, Girls! comes from Carl Segan, renowned astronomer and astrophysicist. While Segan’s dealing with humanity and the need for our species to advance in order to survive catastrophes that could end our civilisation, the quote finds equal applicability in Wake Up, Girls!, where WUG must find ways of surviving and making themselves known before fading into irrecoverable obscurity, and that this process is something that the girls themselves must undertake, as they can reasonably expect no assistance from the outside.

  • Things fast-forwards to the day of departure, where Miyu is very nearly late for their train. The shinkansen line allows folks in Sendai to arrive in Tokyo in around two-and-a-half hours: the road distance is around 360 kilometers and would require a four hour journey by motor vehicle. The relative efficiency of the shinkansen means that one of the challenges I had while following Wake Up, Girls! was ascertaining whether WUG was in Tokyo, where most of their major performances are, or back home in Sendai.

  • Owing to the separation in airing, Wake Up, Girls! is probably the longest running anime I’ve followed outside of OVA series like Gundam Unicorn (four years) and Gundam: The Origin (three years by the time the finale releases): I began watching Wake Up, Girls! back in 2014, and only had the chance to write about the 2015 movies this year. Interest in this series has been generally low, and while folks consider it to be somewhat unrealistic and unenjoyable (hence the lack of discussion), I found the series to be a heartfelt one.

  • After finishing Wake Up, Girls!, I returned to the more idyllic approach that Locodol presented while working on the Giant Walkthrough Brain – Locodol never places Nanako and Yukari into difficult positions as Wake Up, Girls! does to WUG, rather similar to how working on the university project that was the Giant Walkthrough Brain felt a little more comfortable than working in industry at the time. Back in New Chapter!, Yoshino hands out scrunchies that she’s made from their old uniforms, allowing everyone to keep a small piece of their origins: the group’s marching band uniforms were first seen during the regional competition back during the first season of Wake Up, Girls!.

  • While not quite as apparent while animated, the static nature of screenshots mean that the differences in art style are much more noticeable. While folks have criticised Wake Up, Girls! original run for poor animation quality, the art aesthetic was quite distinct and contributed to the rough-around-the-edges-but-genuine nature of Wake Up, Girls!. The new art style is an improvement from its predecessor overall, and it’s much easier to differentiate between the characters now, but it will also take some getting used to.

  • Mayu and the others run into I-1 Club’s team on stage, whose centre meets them with a cold reception. While Wake Up, Girls! formally has no antagonist beyond the characters’ own doubts and internal challenges, the presence of I-1 does much to remind viewers that the business of being an idol is no doubt an unfriendly, competitive one. Despite being a veritable giant, they too are suffering, as their viewership declines forces their Sendai facility to be closed.

  • Airi risks delaying WUG’s live performance when she forgets her scrunchie back in the green room, but with the encouragement of her teammates, she retrieves it just in time to begin the show, where they perform the group’s now-signature “Seven Girls War”. Used as the first season’s opening theme, they’ve delivered fantastic performances of it throughout the anime’s run: in their first performance in New Chapter!, WUG is outfitted with new uniforms that appear much lighter and conducive of movement than their previous ones.

  • Some viewers are unaccustomed to the new character designs and miss the old ones; as I’ve remarked earlier, some time will probably be needed to get used to things. With this being said, one of the design elements that endured from the days of Tatsunoko Production and Ordet’s interpretation are the strangely-shaped smiles. On the whole, however, Millepensee has largely improved on the girls’ expressiveness in New Chapter! and their facial features seem much more natural, rather than forced.

  • Millepensee makes use of CG to animated WUG’s dance sequences – they’ve evidently made an effort to replicate the visual features of the conventional scenes and make a seamless transition, but the differences are still noticeable. I believe Tatsunoko Production and Ordet stuck with traditional animation during their dance sequences, and while video artefacts are visible in Millepensee’s, their execution allows for much more dynamic ranges of motion, synchronisation and camera movements to be present compared to their predecessors.

  • The end result is that the dances are actually quite fun to watch, really capturing the distance that WUG has come since their earliest performance on a December’s night in a park where the audience numbers could be counted on one’s fingers. While “Seven Girls War” is a fun song by all counts, one of the things that I look forwards to seeing in New Chapter! will be whether or not any new songs are introduced into the series.

  • Strictly speaking, while I personally enjoy Wake Up, Girls! and have positive things to say about the series, I understand that this anime is not for everyone for its execution. Further to this, IdolM@ster and Love Live! are much larger and better-known than Wake Up, Girls!, so it is perhaps not too much of a surprise that there is limited discussions of Wake Up, Girls! out there. For WUG, they are faced with rising out from obscurity in-show, and in the real world, Wake Up, Girls! deals with similar challenges: I’ve heard that Wake Up, Girls! initially did not perform particularly well in Japan, but once WUG began finding their feet, reception to the anime warmed.

  • Following their performance, Mayu and the others reassure a worried Airi about her decision to retrieve her scrunchie earlier at the risk of jeopardising the entire group’s performance. The team has had conflicts in the past with Airi, when Takusu forced the team to choose between dismissing Airi or becoming disbanded as a whole to test their resolve. Since then, WUG’s unity has remained unshakable, and the team will do what is necessary to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. When Mayu mentions superstitions for performers, I’m reminded of the rituals that players in the NHL and other professional athletes have prior to a game.

  • En route back to Sendai, Junko forcibly wakes up Kōhei and informs him of her plans to take WUG on a national tour to elevate their presence. My plans presently for New Chapter! will be to write about it after every three episodes. This brings my first talk in New Chapter! to an end, and in the very near future, I will be aiming to watch In A Corner of This World and write about it, along with Girls’ Last Tour.

One of the elements that I’ve noticed about Wake Up, Girls! is its relative obscurity in the English-speaking community – it’s a bit of an irony that Wake Up, Girls! is about overcoming obscurity in their world when in the real world, there’s been very little talk about the series in other blogs and discussion venues. While expectations for Wake Up, Girls! has always been low, and reception mixed at best, I found in Wake Up, Girls! an earnest series about a group of youth pursing their dreams and dealing with setbacks to the best of their abilities. This is why even three-and-a-half years following Wake Up, Girls! original run, I am quite keen to continue with the journey that Mayu and the others embark on in pursuit of their dreams. I will be writing about New Chapter! periodically this season, returning after every three episodes to consider what New Chapter! has covered, as well as where the series is headed. In addition, with the addition of three new characters in the form of students who are also fans of WUG, one of the possibilities include seeing whether or not they will interact directly with WUG at any point in New Chapter!‘s upcoming episodes.

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

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where is Taki’s apartment located?”

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

Locating Taki’s Apartment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Giant Flythough Kimi no Na Wa

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

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

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

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

Closing Remarks

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

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.