The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Rize Tedeza

The Treasure is Your Decisive Moment: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? Finale Impressions and Whole-Series Review

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

All good things come to an end, and on Boxing Day, the last GochiUsa episode released. Their vacation over, it’s business as usual at Rabbit House, but Chino now has a fervent desire to take photographs of Cocoa and her friends. After a short-lived photo frenzy, Cocoa decides to continue working and while dusting an image, finds a treasure map of sorts. It turns out to be a “Ciste Map”, where participants utilise clues provided by said map to locate a hidden cache of treasure, and subsequently must provide a treasure of their own alongside of a new map to perpetuate the game. After learning that Cocoa’s never partaken before, Chino, Maya and Megu decide to join up with Cocoa; it turns out that such a treasure hunt is how Chino became friends with Maya and Megu. They eventually stumble across a hidden garden, and, with Cocoa too broad to fit through the small gap, Chino, Maya and Megu swap out their treasures. Later that evening, Chino reveals that her desire to take ordinary photos was motivated by Mocha’s request. Moved to tears by the truths that the two respectively bring out, Chino and Cocoa share their mutual appreciation for one another and embark in a pillow fight of sorts. With Maya and Megu, Chino later organises another Ciste Map for Cocoa and Rize, and back at the Hoto Bakery, Mocha reads letters from Cocoa and Chino. Last week’s episode felt distinctly like a finale, but as with life itself, there is no finale, allowing the series to continue for one more episode to really illustrate just how much has changed since Cocoa arrived more than a year ago. Having matured as a result of working at Rabbit House, Cocoa has also a nontrivial impact on those around her, bringing joyfulness and even change into the lives of her friends and co-workers.

Cocoa’s influence and gradual maturity therefore forms the main theme for all of both seasons of GochiUsa: though she’s rather airheaded and can be quite clumsy, her ceaseless spirit and energy brings people together. In doing so, she gradually becomes more dependable, more mature (even if she does not realise it). Were it not her friendship with Chino, Rize and Chiya, Sharo, Megu and Maya would not have entered the main group to share numerous adventures and experiences with one another, bringing everyone together for Christmas, inadvertently settling the rivalry between Ama Usa An and Rabbit House, and most significantly, acting as the driving force to open up Chino to the others, who has become more expressive with her emotions relative to the first season. While season one might have presented Cocoa as a seemingly-generic, energetic and happy-go-lucky sort of individual, the second season adds more depth to her, suggesting that she’s long desired to mature and become more capable through acting as an older sister for others. Moreover, she’s also prone to jealous streaks, but is resuscitated by her friends on all occasions (whom she had a hand in bringing together in the first place). Thus, the very bonds she builds both hurts and helps her to mirror the dynamics of friendship, helping her mature in the process, and this is where GochiUsa truly shines: people are complex, multi-dimensional beings, and GochiUsa allows its characters to fully experience the good and bad. Far from being static characters common to most slice-of-life anime, the characters of GochiUsa‘s second season feel alive and unique; the first season excelled in crafting a workplace comedy with its setting, and the second season makes use of this to explore more facets for each character.

Because the characters are reasonably familiar after the first season, GochiUsa‘s second season is able to waste no time in setting up various combinations of characters to see how their interactions play out. In doing so, rather than resulting in the same sort of end result that may arise, different opportunities for comedy are created by varying the groups up. Cocoa and Sharo is one such example; the latter ends up decking the former to motivate her after Cocoa laments falling behind her sister. Similarly, watching Megu and Chiya hunt for wild edibles together was quite entertaining, and Rize spends time with Maya to tail Aoyama. These are merely examples of the second season diversifying which combinations of characters form a part of the episode progression, allowing different personalities to bounce off one another and creating new opportunities for comedy that would otherwise not arise. Therefore, by season two, the town merely becomes the backdrop for all of these events to occur, and the focus becomes shifted towards the characters themselves. Seemingly-familiar characters gain new dimensionality, and far from being yet another generic anime about “cute girls doing cute things”, GochiUsa‘s second season is able to keep things novel and refreshing with each passing episode; at no point does the anime ever feel repetitive or stale.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As the finale post, there will be thirty images here; I’ll use the figure captions to comment on both events within the episode, as well as make broad remarks about elements from GochiUsa as a whole. To kick things off, it’s been an incredible ride from start to finish: GochiUsa began during Thanksgiving and ended on Boxing Day, with each episode being an absolute delight to watch. Originally scheduled to come out tomorrow, I had a bit of time today to get the post out, and moreover, my copy of the OST’s arrived, allowing me to listen to it and learn which tracks correspond with the pieces of background music I enjoyed the most.

  • The finale appears to begin similarly enough to the first episode: this time, it’s Chino who’s photographing everything around her. Upon first glance, it appears as though Chino’s taking after Cocoa, who was photographing everything in sight during GochiUsa‘s first episode: this decision was probably deliberate, chosen to illustrate that for her mature and collected mannerisms, Chino can resemble Cocoa at times as a consequence of how much time they’ve spent together.

  • Some discussions erroneously state that the cameras are old-school, dating back from 2005. This is false, given that most cameras from 2005 have a bulkier frame. I have already identified the cameras as a Sony DSC-W630 Cybershot based on the aperture, flash and autofocus lamp placement during the first post; the cameras are not meant to evoke nostalgia, being present simply to allow the girls a means to photograph their friends and surroundings. As further evidence, the DSC-W630 Cybershot does come in blue.

  • As a clever callback to the eighth episode‘s recursive tailing, as Chino tries to photograph Tippy, Cocoa decides to photograph Chino. Rize then aims to photograph Cocoa, and Sharo photographs Rize. Chiya outdoes everyone, capturing the perfect shot with all four of her friends.

  • Besides the farewell party for Mocha, Rabbit House has remained quite quiet this season. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the seemingly low patronship at Rabbit House seen in GochiUsa is probably a consequence of the anime deliberately choosing to depict more relaxed moments: rendering many patrons on-screen would doubtlessly be expensive from a technical side of things. It’s been remarked that Rabbit House normally isn’t crowded, but there probably is a sufficient number of patrons, given that Rabbit House has stuck around for a non-trivial period of time.

  • While dusting a frame, a map falls out. I remark that the puzzle that Chino and the others built during the previous season does not appear to be visible anywhere, so it’s quite likely that Takahiro rotates the decor every so often to keep things fresh at Rabbit House. Cocoa learns that most everyone has been on a Ciste Hunt and grows teary-eyed at the prospects of being left out, so Chino decides to bring Cocoa on the latter’s first-ever hunt.

  • The notion of a Ciste hunt became popular in Europe during 2007 and the rules are succinctly described in GochiUsa. A map is used to locate the treasure box, and upon finding it, one must take one item from the box, replacing it with one of their own. The word ciste is derived from Greek, referring to a basket used for ferry gifts to Gods, and cite hunts in the real-world are quite popular, with thousands of participants coordinating hunts using online communications.

  • The point of these hunts is the thrill of the chase, and the activity is functionally similar to Geocaching. Thus, that GochiUsa manages to distill out the core essence of a ciste hunt: that the journey matters more than the destination, is no surprise, although the anime takes things one step further and removes the electronic component, forcing the girls to carry out the activity using just their wits. Together with Megu and Maya, Chino and Cococa explore parts of their town that the audiences have never seen before.

  • The subject of numerous photographs and paintings, a door covered with vines is but one of the many hitherto unseen locations that Cocoa and the others encounter during their ciste hunt. There’s a special sort of magic about locations such as these; while browsing calendars for 2016, I came across a garden calendar that featured these doorways. I eventually went with a calendar featuring mountain paintings: there’s a mysticism to see traditional buildings from an older age under the mountains, and a part of me yearns for a simpler time, despite my own love for technology and sciences.

  • It turns out that Chino’s friendship with Maya and Megu result from a innocuous mistake, where Maya misinterprets “barista” as “ballista” on account of the phonetic similarities between the “r” and “l” sounds” and imagines Chino to be strong-willed, resembling an ancient missile launcher. They go on their first ciste hunt but eventually lose motivation, and it’s thanks to Cocoa that everyone’s excited to do another hunt.

  • I’ve remarked previously that each character’s namesake is related to their contributions towards GochiUsa: Maya and Megu were already friends before meeting Chino, and their friendship with Chino has helped the latter open up to some extent. Looking around some recipes, I’ve found that nutmeg can be used to spruce up both Jogamaya tea and Cappuccino, suggesting that the girls’ friendship forms a sort of synergy that’s helping each individual mature.

  • The GochiUsa season two soundtrack came out on Christmas Day, and my copy only arrived recently. I’ve had a chance to listen to it in full now, and it’s a fantastic complement to the anime. Like the first soundtrack, the music is quite diverse, ranging from distinctly French pieces that capture the regional spirit (木組みの街〜雪解けと春のはじまり and Rabbit’s Time), to gentle pieces like 大好きな笑顔 and おやすみ前のラテアート, which convey the sort of lightheartedness associated with Cocoa and the others. There’s also more tense music for when the girls grow anxious, or when Tippy mounts a one-rabbit assault on Ama Usa An (後ろに気をつけろ!! and 覚悟しろっ, respectively) The piano version of キリマンジャロだね turned out to be 可憐な乙女心, and it’s become one of my favourite tracks on the OST.

  • The clues on the map points to a small hole that Cocoa can’t fit through, and there is mention of Hobbits here. First conceptualised in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Hobbits are known for their short stature and fondness for comfort, but also their incredible resilience: Gandalf remarks in The Fellowship of the Ring that Hobbits are quite surprising despite his own knowledge of their customs and lifestyle. I imagine that the comparison is drawn for Chimame’s smaller size, allowing them to go where Cocoa cannot.

  • Arriving in a secret garden of sorts, Chino, Maya and Megu find a treasure box located at the end of the plaza. Resembling the one seen in GochiUsai‘s opening sequence, it appears that this episode’s been foreshadowed since day one. However, given the complete lack of discussion or even recollection, it’s definitely fallen from the viewers’ minds since the first episode, only to return in a big way in the finale. This is why I remark that there could be hidden tidbits inside the opening sequences of anime; sometimes, the opening sequences offer insights into an anime in ways that viewers do not consider.

  • Amongst some various articles in the treasure box, a discount coupon and massage voucher can be found. The girls quickly pick their treasure and leave behind the items they’d brought with them, as they wish not to keep Cocoa waiting for too long.

  • In contrast to the first season, GochiUsa‘s second season completely dispenses with visual fanservice, instead, making use of a good balance of humour and more touching moments to drive the story forwards. Bloggers elsewhere have remarked that something like GochiUsa would be immensely difficult to write about because purportedly, nothing happens in anime such as these.

  • This holds true under some cases, and slice-of-life anime are often overlooked simply because typically, they lack a cohesive narrative from which literary analysis might be carried out. However, GochiUsa‘s second season in particular seems to manage just fine, subtly conveying a moral or lesson through the events in each character’s everyday life. Although it is presumptuous for me to say so, it takes an uncommonly keen eye to pick these elements out in an anime prima facie about “cute girls doing cute things” and write posts that are distinct from one another, to step away from any notions of saying the same thing too frequently.

  • With that being said, it’s more than acceptable if audiences can’t pick out the more subtle thematic elements from anime such as GochiUsa: although authors may have worked them in to impart a particular interpretation of life lessons, their intent is for the show to be relaxing overall. Thus, audiences can most certainly enjoy GochiUsa without thinking too deeply about what all of the girls’ actions and reactions entail. The photo here was taken back during the previous episode, and Cocoa has difficulty recognising that it’s her.

  • Although Chino never calls Cocoa onee-san of her own volition, it’s clear that by this point in time, the two have definitely become closer to what sisters as can be, having a minor fight of sorts when they misunderstand the other’s feelings. The conflicts on GochiUsa are always on a small scale, being readily solved within the space of minutes. On the note of it seeming difficult to effectively make episodic discussions for anime such as GochiUsa, I’ve found that the anime’s given no shortage of topics to discuss with each episode, and I’ve found myself referring to physics textbooks, Tom Clancy novels and even Survivorman in previous posts to augment discussions.

  • With the season now over, the reception in the places I frequent has been overwhelmingly positive: other viewers similarly remark that GochiUsa is a relaxing, fun anime that was over all too soon and also come to the conclusion that the characters themselves might be likened to rabbits. 2015 has been a solid year for anime such as GochiUsa (Hello! Kiniro Mosaic and Non Non Biyori Repeat come to mind, alongside the first two Tamayura: Graduation Photo movies).

  • At episode five’s end, the bar below is shaking from an unseen force that’s dislodging dust from the ceiling. It foreshadows the massive pillow/stuffed animal fight that Chino and Cocoa are having. Contrary to their relatively small stature, the effect implies either that the two can be quite rambunctious at times, or else, Rabbit House is an aging building, allowing for the girls’ activities to be noticed in the bar below.

  • It turns out that the reason why Chino was particularly keen on photographing things earlier was in response to a letter from Mocha requesting conventional photographs in and around Rabbit House: the photographs that Cocoa take tend to be more spruced up, and while fun, might not necessarily be the best representation of life at a coffee house. One of the strengths in GochiUsa is that details seemingly forgotten over the course of an episode are neatly incorporated into things at an appropriate time. Thus, nothing is left unanswered, yielding closure for things that do happen.

  • For those wondering, the reason this post did not come out on the day of the finale’s airing was because said airing coincided with Boxing Day: I got up bright and early so I could visit one of the larger malls in the area to pick up 2016 calendars on discount, along with a new three-piece suit for myself, new gloves, a toque and scarf. I also bought a hardcover on JSOC’s operational history for a third off. The next day, I spent most of the time working on the publication: we’re getting close now and merely need to trim some sections so it fits within the four-page limit, then attended my first-ever Zoo Lights. Then yesterday, I finally got around to watching Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

  • After enjoying the results of their own Ciste hunt, Maya, Chino and Megu decide to rig a new hunt for Cocoa and the others. They craft new maps and invite their senpai for a hunt that is not shown on-screen as thanks to Cocoa for having helped them complete their own hunt. The notion of Ciste hunting is remarkably fitting for an anime such as GochiUsa, as it reinforces the notion that moments are memorable because of who one is with, rather than anything material.

  • Aoyama and her editor are seen walking around the town’s streets. Although GochiUsa‘s second season places more empthasis on the characters rather than their environment, the town is still lovingly depicted. With all of the activities described earlier, there’s been very little time for blogging thus far, but today, I’ve had an opportunity to sit down and hammer out the posts. GochiUsa‘s second season marks my first attempt at doing episodic posts, and it definitely was a fun experience to figure out what each week’s episode was about and put that into words. While a little tiring, it was well worth it; I’ve a respect for anime blogs that do episodic reviews owing to the effort it takes to make them each week, and being able to experience that allows me a bit of insight into how larger blogs necessitate more than a single author.

  • The Hoto Bakery is seen again as GochiUsa draws to a close, and as per predictions, Mocha does indeed make another appearance in some form. A ways back, I came across a disagreement on whether or not Cocoa and Mocha’s last names were more appropriately romanised “Hot” or “Hoto”, with some less-informed individuals opting for the former in order to make obvious a pun. The preferred romanisation is “Hoto” on the sole virtue that the “o” sound in -to can be silent, so the pronunciation still allows for the pun to be kept. However, this way allows for the Kanji, 保登, to be retained: translating roughly to “always rising”, it would double as a metaphor for the Hoto family business of baking rising bread.

  • Careful inspection of Cocoa’s letters show that they were sent via air mail. This might serve to compound the mystery of where the Hoto family bakery actually is: it’s definitely deep in the mountains, sufficiently far away for Mocha to take the train to visit Cocoa, but that air mail is used suggests they’re either quite far away, or else Cocoa was merely itching to send her letters quickly.

  • Cocoa and Mocha’s mother is also shown on screen now, so the only person whose family hasn’t been shown is Sharo and Maya. Voiced by Yuuko Minaguchi (Kanon‘s Akiko Minase and CLANNAD‘s Kouko Ibuki), Cocoa’s mother is hitherto unnamed, but it was quite the pleasant surprise to see family for most of the characters in GochiUsa. So, seeing Sharo and Maya’s family on-screen might be left for a third season.

  • With this post nearing its conclusion, I remark that GochiUsa‘s second season has had a phenomenal run, bringing all of the elements that made the first season so enjoyable and finding new ways of elevating things to new heights. At present, the manga is still ongoing, so there’s definitely enough material for a continuation, and should sales for GochiUsa be strong, a third season will almost certainly be made at an unknown point in the future (although I stress that this is merely my own speculation).

  • Given that it was mentioned briefly that everyone was moving up a year back during the fourth episode, it is quite conceivable that Rize will be graduating soon, and a third season will follow Cocoa et al.’s journey towards their own graduation. If this is to be the case, then the third season might become a little more serious in nature as the girls figure out what they will be doing after high school ends, and for Chino’s friends, as they make the transition from middle school to high school. This could make for an interesting third season, although given that there is a manga, one could check that out to catch a glimpse of what a continuation will be like.

Consequently, GochiUsa is something that can be recommended quite easily to a diverse audience. Naturally, slice-of-life fans will find this to be most enjoyable, but GochiUsa is also an excellent accompaniment to the lives of anyone who’s quite busy, acting as a relaxing, cathartic countermeasure to the hustle of their daily lives. There are numerous anime, dubbed “iyashikei” (lit. “healing anime”), that strive to serve such a purpose, but amongst a crowd of technically excellent anime (K-On!, Tamayura, Kiniro Mosaic and Non Non Biyori), GochiUsa is able to find its place in the sun and distinguish itself from the others. Through its charming setting, life-like characters, high animation and artwork quality and a soundtrack with tracks to accompany a wide array of situations, GochiUsa masterfully makes use of each element to bring Cocoa and the girls’ world to life. Taken together with solid writing, GochiUsa earns a strong recommend: I cannot readily think of any strikes against GochiUsa that detract from it, hence my assessment. Looking forwards, the manga is still ongoing, and so, there is definitely a possibility for continuation if GochiUsa‘s sales in Japan are good. I imagine that any third season will likely follow a similar pattern as YuruYuri San☆Hai!, which was released three years after the second season but managed to similarly keep things sufficiently novel to impress audiences. For the present, though, GochiUsa comes to an end, and it was an incredible experience to watch and write about it.

The Girl Dons a Red Coat and Drives a Team of Rabbits Across the Christmas Eve Night Sky: A Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? Christmas

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” —Thomas S. Monson

Though it aired a full half year (and six days, to be precise) before Christmas 2014, the eleventh episode of GochiUsa’s first season was set around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, following the girls as they visited a Christmas market to purchase ornaments and plan out a Christmas Eve party after-hours. Though Christmas Eve turns out to be quite busy, with patrons lining up to try Rabbit House’s Christmas Pancake special, the girls are in fine spirits to continue with their party. Later that evening, Cocoa assumes the role of Santa Claus and clandestinely makes her way into Chino’s room to deliver some gifts, but winds up falling asleep by Chino’s bed in the process. The next morning, Chino is pleasantly surprised by what “Santa” had delivered during the course of the night. Filled with elaborately drawn scenes of Christmas around Rabbit House and its setting, the episode stood out as a king amongst kings: GochiUsa’s first season featured memorable episodes, but the Christmas episode was particularly unique, making use of the winter season to capture each of the characters in their element. Consequently, GochiUsa’s Christmas episode raises the bar for what one might reasonably expect from anime with an episode set during the winter holidays. While this could be seen as surprising, given GochiUsa’s relatively simple premise, there are elements that set GochiUsa’s Christmas episode above the rest.

The main reason why GochiUsa’s Christmas episode is so remarkable is because, rather than using the Christmas season as a backdrop to frame certain events, the concepts underlying Christmas itself is captured within the episode. Most anime (for instance, CLANNAD: After Story, K-On!, Lucky Star, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan and SoniAni) utilise Christmas as an opportunity to add a bit of festivity to their respective stories. Quite simply, Christmas is fit into the anime. Conversely, in GochiUsa, the episode is fit around Christmas. This is visible when, upon arriving at Rabbit House and seeing that Chino and the others are still inundated with customers, Chiya, Sharo, Maya and Megu lend a hand to help out. This progression fully captures what is known as the “true meaning of Christmas”; coined in the mid-nineteenth century, the phrase refers to selflessness, to bring happiness to others, and this is exactly what the girls are doing in helping Cocoa, Rize and Chino serve their customers (the latter themselves are spending their time to ensure that Rabbit House’s customers have a good time). However, although they are busy, the girls have an opportunity to be together in their work (and later, deservedly enjoy their own Christmas party). Up until the Christmas episode, the girls have not been seen working together; another significant aspect of Christmas is about being together regardless of what the event is, and on a busy Christmas Eve, the girls find joy in working hard together to serve their customers. That the story is able to draw from such distinctly Christmas-related themes is impressive, and while not quite as well known as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, GochiUsa nonetheless expresses what Christmas is about as effectively as these classics.

Additional Sceenshots and Commentary

  • This is the Christmas post that would have come out last year had I not been in Taiwan and Hong Kong during the winter holidays, and might also be a reasonable approximation of what a GochiUsa post for the first season would have looked like had I done an episodic review for the first season. The only difference is that there are thirty screenshots rather than the usual twenty, and that is a consequence of the episode featuring an above-average number of special moments to discuss.

  • Because this post is special, all of the images are in 1080p and available for viewing in full size; on that note, if you’re reading this on Christmas morning, I’d like to wish you Merry Christmas! Here, Cocoa and the others visit the local Christmas market while Chino is searching for ornaments to display at Rabbit House.

  • I mentioned this in the GochiUsa first season review, but there’s a store in Banff called The Spirit of Christmas. They sell all manners of Christmas ornaments, decorations, lights, nutcrackers and Christmas lighthouses; even during the middle of summer, the shop gives off an air of Christmas. For individuals seeking the Christmas spirit during the spring and summer, this shop is as close as it gets.

  • The Spirit of Christmas has over five thousand square feet of retail space and has been open for the past twenty-five years. It appears that the shop in GochiUsa is rather smaller, but nonetheless conveys a very warm and inviting atmosphere.

  • Cocoa and Rize discuss gift ideas for Chino while the latter is perusing the merchandise within the store. I’m noticing that as of late, going Christmas shopping for other has been most enjoyable: it’s fun to think of what gifts might be suitable for someone, being something they’d enjoy while conveying appreciation. I usually begin considering Christmas gifts for family and friends as early as October and will get my shopping done ahead of the holiday rush to avoid the associated stress of über-crowded malls.

  • Cocoa decides to gift Chino a music box, and decides to buy a spooky-looking rabbit for the gift exchange. I began learning how to properly wrap gifts two years ago when I began doing more Christmas shopping, and at present, though I am a little slow, I am minimally capable of wrapping rectangular gifts. Strangely-shaped packages remain beyond my skill level for the present.

  • Cocoa’s winter coat makes her resemble a snow angel. Her carefree, ever-cheerful spirit reminds me of the joyfulness that children express during the season for the winter weather, festivities and gifts. As people mature, happiness appears to become increasingly associated with being able to tangibly express appreciation and love for others: at that unique interface between childhood and adulthood, Cocoa radiates the happiness seen in children, while simultaneously demonstrating an adult’s maturity in considering how to best express her appreciation to Chino.

  • The university sent out an email reminding staff that campus was to be closed at noon on Christmas Eve, so all staff have a half-day off; originally, I had been planning on using the half-day to get work done, but as I’ve been maintaining reasonable pacing, I was able to take the whole day off.

  • While handing out fliers to Fleur de Lupin on Christmas Eve, Sharo briefly imagines herself as The Little Match Girl, a Danish poem by Hans Christian Andersen about a poor girl who’s tasked with selling matches. Despite the bitterly cold conditions, she continues on pain of corporeal punishment, and eventually lights a match to keep herself warm. Though the ending is gut-wrenching, Andersen intended the story’s ending to be optimistic one, for in death, the girl’s suffering ceases.

  • GochiUsa‘s Christmas depicts various locations around town by night as the snow begins to fall. These scenes are very peaceful and show the extent that a particular place can change under different lighting and weather conditions.

  • Thus, there’s a bit of magic in seeing very familiar scenes transformed during the Silent Night; up until this point in GochiUsa, the town has largely been depicted by afternoon or evening during the spring and summer. It’s not often that an anime goes through the lengths of characterising distinct seasons, and I believe that besides GochiUsa, one of the best anime to profoundly capturing the seasons is Non Non Biyori.

  • Back at Rabbit House, Maya and Megu arrive early to find that it’s still fairly busy. They’re soon recruited to help out and do so with gusto. Cocoa, being Cocoa, finds herself struggling to stay on target once she sees the two dressed up and ready to roll for Christmas.

  • The Rabbit House Christmas Pancake special is a work of culinary art, composed of three pancakes stacked on top of one another, interspersed with layers of banana, strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream. Theres also a confectionary bunny up top (probably a pastry of some kind) and the entire creation is drizzled lightly in chocolate. Maya and Megu promise to get to work after trying one, and I remark that this pancake, if scaled up, would be worthy of a Man v. Food challenge.

  • Whereas Rabbit House is depicted to be generally quiet, it’s packed and full of life on Christmas Eve. I imagine that most of GochiUsa depicts the periods in between customers as a consequence of practical constraints (animating many moving entities can be costly) and to ensure the focus stays on the girls’ interactions.

  • I spent most of yesterday working on the Master Grade 00 Raiser, and consequently, my fingers hurt like a thousand needles, even after a much-welcomed chicken sandwich for lunch. The day before, I finished grading the iOS assignments with my supervisor, and was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the submissions were high-scoring. One team implemented an app for wait times at a restaurant, and I cannot help but wonder if Rabbit House could benefit from using this app: all they’d need is an iPad.

  • Once Sharo arrives, she despairs that she’s left one workplace to enter another. She subsequently enters the zone and begins delegating tasks to everyone, even Rize, resulting in a dramatic increase in efficiency, presumably because she most wishes to party with everyone else, and becomes willing to work harder to make their Christmas party happen sooner.

  • GochiUsa‘s first season primarily focused on making use of the setting to yield insight into Cocoa and the other girls’ lives in such a picturesque town, and consequently, everyone in the first season could be readily matched with an equivalent personality in K-On!. By season two, with the cast and setting well-established, GochiUsa capitalises on familiarity to begin exploring new directions, and consequently, the second season does feel distinctly different compared to season one.

  • Prima facie, how Cocoa’s Santa-themed party hat manages to stay on is a little bit of a puzzle, but it’s likely bound to her hairband, allowing said hat to rest at an unusual angle. I’ll drop by after the finale to GochiUsa‘s second season airs and do a full review on what the second season contributes to things. It’s actually quite substantial, and for an anime that’s about cute girls doing cute things, plenty of interesting new directions are explored.

  • I’ll save the actual review for after the finale comes out. A year ago, I was on a plane outbound for Hong Kong, and at this point in time, I think I was somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. The Taiwan/Hong Kong vacation last year was quite fun: it marks the first time I’ve traveled anywhere while on winter break, and Taiwan/Hong Kong was quite pleasant by winter. Far from being the icebox my relatives describe, it was pleasantly warm.

  • It was Christmas Day by the time our flight touched down in Taoyuan Airport, and after being whisked away to our hotel for a short sleep, we explored some of the sights in Taipei, including Taipei 101. The afternoon was spent driving through Taroko National Park, where we visited a Japanese-style town and spent the night at the Leader Hotel in the middle of the mountains. The next day, we traveled to the southern part of the island and stopped for an all-fish lunch at a restaurant underneath a massive bridge near the Yanchao district.

  • If anyone’s actually interested in hearing more about Taiwan, you can find me on Facebook or Twitter. I’m going to return to GochiUsa for the present, where, after the last of the customers pay their bills and head off for the night, the girls are finally free to begin their Christmas party, opening off with a toast. I’ve never celebrated Christmas at my workplace before, mainly because it’s a research lab with expensive computers and fancy VR technologies.

  • The closest I’ve had to a workplace Christmas party was when I visited my supervisor’s home out in the mountains two weeks ago. I’m immensely grateful the weather remained quite pleasant: we’ve got a White Christmas this year on account of snow. I included this image because it’s yet another example of how much attention is paid to detail pertaining to food. The holidays are a time for rich foods, and Christmas dinner tonight is set to include an oven-roast, bacon-wrapped scallops, jumbo garlic shrimp and fully-loaded potatoes.

  • Sharo is impressed and somewhat bewildered at the impressive array of foods as Rize prepares to carve the Cornish game hen (it’s too small to be a turkey or even a chicken). On an unrelated note, the Hibike! Euhonium and Locodol OVAs released earlier yesterday, but owing to the holiday schedule, I’ll try to get the reviews for both of those out before we get too far into 2016.

  • Aoyama and Tippy share a moment together, watching the girls enjoy their evening. I was initially hoping that GochiUsa‘s second season would have returned to Christmas, but given that we’re apparently in the middle of summer, that’s definitely not going to happen.

  • As the evening wears on, snow begins falling again. Apparently, what constitutes a “White Christmas” has a very specific definition: Christmas Day must fall on a day where there is persistent (so, more than 5mm) snow on the ground, and a “Perfect Christmas” is a special kind of White Christmas where snow is also falling.

  • Closed for the night, the Christmas Market is deserted, illuminated only by the central tree. Coupled with the snowfall and gentle music, this scene captures the sense of what a proper”Silent Night” might feel like. In Cantonese, Christmas Eve is also referred to as “平安夜”, literally translating to “Peaceful night”: the world takes on a calm on Christmas Eve, and everywhere, children find themselves struggling to fall asleep for anticipation of Santa’s arrival.

  • I shared a discussion with my supervisor a few days ago over a peppermint Mocha (I’ve finally had Mocha’s namesake, it’s sweet like a cocoa but has the distinct edge with the espresso, so my claims stand), and 2016 is going to be quite eventful. We’re kicking off the year with a pair of presentations, then I’ll have to apply for a few more conferences and journals, consider 3D printing parts of my project for augmented reality, and as I’m enrolled in his biological computations course, I’ll have a chance to build a much more sophisticated influenza simulation. For the present, though, I’ll set aside all of my work and take it easy, then resume working on my conference paper once the weekend is over.

  • Cocoa’s longed to play the role of Santa, and as she comes from a family where she’s the youngest sibling, she’s likely not had the chance to do so, with Mocha taking the helm. Thus, when presented with a chance to gift something to Chino, she seizes the opportunity, moving quietly to ensure she does not wake Chino up in the process. It turns out that Takahiro has the same idea, although his execution is rather smoother.

  • The next morning finds Rabbit House under a light dusting of snow, enough to satisfy the criterion for a white Christmas. I’ll go off-mission for a little bit and recount a story in my childhood, where I figured out that “Santa’s” handwriting looked suspiciously familiar, and the following year, “Santa” suddenly switched formats, making use of a word-processed letter. Fortunately, Santa continued to visit thereafter.

  • This marks the end of my first-ever Christmas post, and if you’ve gotten this far, I’ll again wish you a Merry Christmas. I’d love to stick around, but there’s a host of things to do today. For one, I’d like to finish building the 0 Raiser and GN Sword III, then begin making use of a shiny new 4 TB hard drive. I’ll return to do a double-posting on December 30: one for the GochiUsa finale and one for Life is Strange.

Besides a particularly well-written theme about the meaning of Christmas, GochiUsa’s Christmas episode makes extensive use of artwork to enhance the sense of festivities in and around the town where there anime is set. The details that capture the Christmas season in the episode are astounding, from the individual stands and Christmas tree of the Christmas market, to the miniature light-up Christmas village models seen in a small shop Cocoa and the others visit. Despite the cold weather, the town itself feels warm and inviting. As the hours grow later, and the last of of parties draw to a close, a gentle snowfall blankets the town, turning familiar locations into a winter wonderland. All of this imagery allows GochiUsa to depict a Victorian Christmas, of an old-fashioned town covered in snow, and folks dressed in great coats carolling under a winter’s night. Such images of Christmas have continued to endure despite concerns that the holiday has become increasingly commercialised; this demonstrates that modern Christmas institutions notwithstanding, messages of togetherness and charity so central to Christmas have endured through the ages, and while GochiUsa might be an anime, its Christmas episode ultimately succeeds in expressing the author’s own thoughts on what the true meaning of Christmas is.

Stardust Mayim Mayim: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? Eleventh Episode Impressions and Review

“Every fisherman knows what it’s like to be skunked and to mutter under your breath with every cast, ‘come on, a bite. Just one. Just one hit.’ To be skunked when it’s your very survival, it’s hard to take.” —Les Stroud, Survivorman

After realising that they’ve forgotten to bring any food with them on their outing into the mountains (and being unable to communicate with their driver on account of bad cell reception), the girls decide to go fishing along the river. While the others catch fish after fish, Chino is frustrated that she’s unsuccessful, growing doubly so after managing to catch one only with Cocoa’s help. A gust of wind displaces the hat Cocoa had given her, and while trying to retrieve it, she winds up on an island, requiring Rize to rescue her. In the process, Chino finds that she was able to catch a fish after all. When Chiya and Megu return from foraging for wild edibles, the girls have a water fight. Later, Chino wakes up after a terrifying nightmare, and joins the others as they roast marshmallows under a starry sky, where they make wishes upon seeing meteors. In spite of their mishaps, the girls manage to turn a difficult situation around with their easygoing attitudes, in a way that even Les Stroud might approve of. This episode again reiterates the importance of having good fishing equipment, as well as the will to live: in this case, the girls’ spirits are simply so high they manage to make the most of everything and get by just fine. However, this isn’t a Survivorman talk, and as the episodes before it, this episode has one core element to it.

The eleventh episode deals predominantly with Chino’s experiences on her first outdoor trip with her friends: having no opportunity to do so previously, she finds that it’s quite eventful and enjoys it. Chino’s interactions with Cocoa represent the culmination of twenty-two episodes and more than a year’s worth of growth. Frequently mentioned as a beacon of joyfulness in GochiUsa, Cocoa’s contributions to Chino gradually opening up to her and the others becomes most apparent in this episode, as she finally consents to hold Cocoa’s hand, and through the amount of effort she puts in to retrieve Cocoa’s hat. It’s been quite the journey to reach this point, and in contrast to the first season, Chino relents more frequently, suggesting that this is a more accurate representation of Chino’s personality than what we normally see from her. That it takes someone like Cocoa to draw out this character implies that Cocoa’s presence in GochiUsa is nontrivial: she’s the force that disrupts the status quo and acts to bring people together. Besides the growing closeness between Chino and Cocoa, this episode also provides an opportunity for Megu and Chiya to spend time with one another, continuing on the second season’s propensity to mix up the interactions between the characters to create novel scenes and moments of comedy; the eleventh episode continues to deliver consistent measures of hilarity and adorableness.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is the first episode that’s set outside of the small town. There are mountains near Colmar, France, but rather than the sharp-peaked mountains of GochiUsa, which resemble those of the Alps, the mountains in Colmar are a bit older, being more similar to the Appalachians of the Eastern United States. Because the settings in GochiUsa draw inspiration from so many real-world locations, it’s easier to classify as a fictional location.

  • Consequently, for folks wondering why GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic might not gain a crossover, this is why. Cocoa remarks that this area resembles her home, which implies that the Hoto family resides deep within the mountains. The Hoto Bakery thus brings to mind the Lake Anges Teahouse, which is located 3.5 kilometers from the more famous Lake Louise and offers tea, sandwiches and soups in addition to a beautiful view of Lake Anges.

  • En route to Rize’s cabin, the girls stop alongside a river to take in the mountain scenery. The first half of the episode is set along the river, and consequently, allows White Fox to showcase some of their skill in rendering water effects. Here, a still surface allows the river to mirror the landscapes above it, creating a pleasing effect.

  • Upon arriving at the cabin, the girls express a desire to explore and relax, but Rize learns that their cooler was not packed properly. Lacking a phone signal in the mountains, Rize is unable to call their driver, and it appears that they’re now twenty klicks from home. Although such a distance is walkable, Chino becomes visibly shaken, so Rize, Cocoa and Sharo turn their efforts towards reassuring Chino that they’ll manage.

  • Thus, face with an all-to-common predicament of having no food in Survivorman, Cocoa, Sharo, Rize, Chino and Maya decide to go fishing, while Chiya and Megu hunt for wild edibles. There’s a chainsaw in the cabin, and in any other sort of setting, a horror would unfold as some unseen threat materialises to take down the characters, one at a time, but this is GochiUsa, and so, something like this is most certainly not going to happen.

  • Despite having promised to help out, it turns out that Chino, Maya, Sharo and Cocoa have never actually fished before. Everyone is seen using bamboo poles here: these were popular from the 1870s up until the 1950s, during which fibreglass rods were introduced. Despite being quite uncommon, expert fishermen find that the rods are very smooth to use, and with proper maintenance, can last for several decades.

  • For beginners, Sharo and Cocoa perform remarkably well, reeling in fish after fish from the river. While Cocoa proposes a contest of sorts to see who can catch the most, Sharo and the others are merely content to fish until they have adequate supplies. On the other hand, Maya decides that she’s fully experienced fishing after catching just one, and is content to relax in the shade while the others continue.

  • It’s quite rare that Chiya and Megu spend time together: here, they’re gathering wild edibles, but because Megu and Chiya don’t seem to be too familiar with mushrooms, gather some wickedly poisonous ones. The general rule of thumb is to avoid mushrooms if uncertain about which species it is, since the poisonous varieties can be lethal or introduce serious illness if consumed. Consequently, the mushrooms they gather end up being forgotten.

  • Somewhat envious of the others, Chino resolves to continue fishing until she gets a bite (forming the basis for the page quote, which was taken from the Tierra del Fuego episode of Survivorman). A sudden gust knocks her hat into the river, leading her on a short chase to retrieve it. In the previous episode, Cocoa had lent her said hat, and the lengths to which Chino goes to recover it is a reflection on how she presently views Cocoa.

  • It’s absolutely adorable to watch Chino pursue the hat, in part because it’s so heart melting to see Chino get swept around by the river’s current, and upon reaching an islet, she realises she’s stranded. Thinking that Chino is signalling to them, Rize and Maya wave their arms, and eventually, Rize decides to swim over to check things out. It’s only later that Rize learns that Chino was stuck, and Cocoa plays the part of a proper older sibling her, reprimanding Chino that she’s more previous than the hat or a fish.

  • While subtle, all of the characters in GochiUsa do mature and grow in convincing ways. Much as how Chino becomes more willing to be adored, Cocoa proves that she can be responsible, too. After Chiya and Megu return, a water fight breaks out. Calling on her 1337 ballet skills, Megu boldly creates a small waterspout in the river, spraying everyone simultaneously.

  • After an eventful morning and a lunch of grilled fish, everyone lies down for a break in the early afternoon under the shade; even Rize remarks it’s okay to stop for a while to smell the roses. However, when Cocoa decides to photograph everyone, Sharo and Rize immediately go after her, and Chiya decides to snap her own photos, too. With Christmas less than a week away, I’m losing the inclination to work; my visualisation of influenza is largely complete, and all that’s left in 2015 is to wrap up a draft of the VRIC conference paper.

  • Basking under the warmth of an afternoon sun eventually leads Chino to fall asleep, and, the seniors manages to get her into a sleeping bag. Thinking to prank her, Maya and Megu convince her that their cabin was assaulted by the undead. GochiUsa is not the first to employ the unusual combination of undead and moé: Gakko Gurashi‘s entire functional premise is based around thus, and tells a rather compelling story about the implications of extreme duress on a high school student’s mind.

  • Maya and Megu manage to convince Chino that their seniors fell to the hordes of undead, and Megu fakes an infection, frightening Chino sufficiently to lead her to try and escape. It’s actually a little mean-spirited given what one is accustomed to seeing from GochiUsa, but it’s also quite amusing. The reference to ketchup is a clever callback to the first season, where Cocoa “died by ketchup” after being spurned by Chino when she’d accidentally burnt the latter while making pancakes.

  • Apparently, there is some faulty lighting and an insufficient number of beds in the cottage, leading the girls to rough it outside. While Rize’s feeling that the screwups might’ve detracted from everyone’s trip, it turns out that everyone had in fact, enjoyed it. Making use of the coffee maker that Takahiro had given her in the previous episode, Cocoa brews up a cup of Rabbit House’s in-house blend, reminding Chino of home.

  • The girls decide to stay up a bit more and play a game of sorts, eventually just spinning around the campfire at 120 Hz until the circle decays and everyone, even Rize, flies asunder. The dance they propose here, the “Mayim Mayim”, is a Hebrew dance that was created in 1937 to celebrate the discovery of water. The episode’s title takes its name from the girls performing a simplified variant of the dance under starlight. Surprisingly, Chiya manages to land without any difficulty, and again, armed with her incredibly vast knowledge of ballet, Megu keeps on spinning. The game is reminiscent of the Chinese song “氹氹轉” (lit. “spinning round”), a song that I’m rather fond of, and was used as a joke in Sam Hui’s  最佳拍檔 (“Aces go Places”), where King Kong (Sam Hui) uses the song to trick the cops into letting him go.

  • Upon seeing a shooting star, Chino makes a wish to continue to spend time with her friends. A second meteor prompts Cocoa to wish to surpass Mocha, Chiya to wish for Ama Usa An’s success and Sharo to yearn for consistently being able to put food on the table. Metallically Ironically, Rize wishes punishment on the forces responsible for throwing so many wrenches into their trip, and back at Rabbit House, Rize’s father’s drink spills for no reason. That wishes should be spoken out loud is contrary to what I was told: that wishes should be kept to oneself.

  • While having a friendly-spirited debate about whether or not the drink is on the house, Takahiro and Rize’s father challenge one another to a blow-dart contest, with Takahiro remarking that they’d once fought in the desert. Given the presence of cell phones and the characters’ approximate ages, I conclude that Takahiro must be referring to the Gulf War. It must be the middle of August at this point in time, given the number of shooting stars that are seen. The Perseids peak mid-August, and I recall seeing a fireball, plus six smaller shooting starts ovre the course of an hour when I last went to watch the meteor shower.

  • On break, Aoyama hangs out in a veranda and sees a meteor of her own, prompting Tippy to wish for Chino and the others to have a grand time. Aoyama wishes for Chino’s grandfather to speak to her through Tippy, and Tippy promptly obliges. This episode was a little strange for the end credits, which did not feature the usual ending sequence and rock paper scissors game.

  • I’ve got a Halo 2 LAN party to get to, so it’s about time for me to wrap up this post. Fortunately, this is not the end of the season; as the episode draws to a close, the others reverse the table on Cocoa, leading her into a panic (so, we can reasonably assume that the undead prank was one of Cocoa’s machinations). I’m wondering if Mocha might make a return in the next episode, and as the preview offers no insight as to what will happen, anything is go for next week’s finale. That’s pretty much it for this post; until next time, take it easy.

We’re now down to one episode remaining in GochiUsa’s second season, which means that next week will mark the end of the first series that I’ve done episodic posts about. It’s been quite surprising as to how quickly time flies by, and in the blink of an eye, an entire academic semester has passed by. In part owing to the respite that GochiUsa delivered each week, things never became too overwhelming or stressful. After a week’s of code implementation, publication and thesis work and other things associated with being a graduate student, it was most welcome to kick off the weekend with an episode of GochiUsa, relax and then resume working hard. Now that half of December over, Christmas will be here in less than a week; next week’s episode, titled “The Treasure is Your Decisive Moment”, is the finale and will be air on Boxing Day. I was in the mountains and gorges of Taroko National Park last year on Boxing Day, taking in the warm air and fish luncheons of Taiwan, but this year will be more conventional. The finale post will be a little lengthier than the episodic posts seen so far, as I will give my overall impressions of GochiUsa’s second season in addition to the episode’s contributions and if possible, a discussion of the soundtrack, as well. Consequently, the finale and whole-season review post will be tentatively set for publication on December 30, and before then, I will drop by on Christmas Day to talk briefly about how GochiUsa’s Christmas episode from the previous season seems to capture the spirit of Christmas more profoundly than most anime.

Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka?? Original Soundtrack set for release on December 25, 2015

“Where words fail, music speaks.” —Hans Christian Andersen

As the Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? did last year, the Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka?? OST will be set for a release on Christmas Day of this year. Retailing for 2700 yen (roughly 30.71 CAD at the time of writing), this soundtrack will feature one disk with thirty-nine tracks from the second season. Insofar, GochiUsa‘s second season has been a solid offering, consistently finding new ways to allow the characters to interact with one another, and making use of different combinations to give rise to new experiences for everyone. This has been at the forefront of all GochiUsa discussion, so other aspects (such as the soundtrack) have fallen by the wayside as the series progressed. I’ve remarked here and there that there are some new pieces that can be heard in GochiUsa‘s second season, such as a piano version of “It’s Kilimanjaro” and an upbeat piece that plays during the start of several episodes. Older songs, such as “Aoyama’s circumstances” and “Telling a Story” also make a return, but the new tracks add aural diversity to GochiUsa, allowing the anime to project more emotions to better fit in with some of the new moments that arise as a result of different character interactions.


  • The cover art for the second season’s soundtrack looks amazing, taking on the same artistic style as it did for the first season’s soundtrack. This time, a younger Cocoa and Mocha are depicted in front of the Hoto family bakery, a family-owned business that produces some excellent baked goods.

As is usual for posts of this sort, I’ve made an effort to translate all of the track names into English so that the songs are more easy to recall. Some of the translation conventions were chosen such that they sound more natural in English. The choice to leave onee-chan untranslated in track two results from the fact that the song’s title is probably spoken by Cocoa or Mocha in the third person (functionally, “leave it to me”), and while this would sound awkward in English (“leave it to [older] sister!”), it works for Japanese, as younger speakers often refer to themselves in the third person. For track thirteen, “可憐” has two possible meanings; although referring to a wretched or piteous state, in this context, it can mean “sweet”. GochiUsa is a happy-go-lucky sort of anime, so the latter would be more appropriate as a song name. Track twenty-two is given as “challenge” rather than “game” given how its utilised in GochiUsa, typically when Cocoa is challenging with someone whenever the topics of little sisters is mentioned. I’m quite uncertain as to how track twenty-four should be translated: “覚悟” simply is “resolute”, and “しろ” is white. The inclusion of the Sokuon (i.e. small tsu) throws things off, but I imagine that it’s used here as a glottal stop to suddenly terminate articulation, indicating surprise or anger. Thus, the track itself might be referring to Tippy’s determination in storming Ama Usa An, which results in how I ultimately translate it.


  1. 木組みの街〜雪解けと春のはじまり (Timber-framed town, the spring thaw begins)
  2. おねえちゃんにまかせなさ〜い! (Leave it to onee-chan!)
  3. Rabbit’s Time
  4. しょうがないですね (It’s not ginger)
  5. あんこの夢〜甘兎へようこそ☆☆ (Anko’s Dream – Welcome to the Sweet Rabbit☆☆)
  6. ちょっとむずかしいです (It’s a little difficult)
  7. 〆切は苦手です〜 (The deadline is difficult)
  8. 大好きな笑顔 (Beloved smile)
  9. Eyecatch〜hop!〜
  10. もふもふとご満悦 (Blissful cuddling)
  11. モカの温もり (Mocha’s warmth)
  12. お嬢様の昼下がり (The Princesses’ Afternoon)
  13. 可憐な乙女心 (The lovely maiden’s feelings)
  14. ノーポイッ!〜solo piano ver.〜 (No-Poi! piano version)
  15. おやすみ前のラテアート (Latte art before a good night)
  16. えーとえーと、、あれれ? (Umm, umm, what?)
  17. 困ったなあ (Troubled)
  18. 眩しい光 (Dazzling Light)
  19. 後ろに気をつけろ!! (Watch your rear!!)
  20. ピンチ!! (Pinch!!)
  21. 焙煎しすぎてしまった…!! (The roasting was messed up!!)
  22. 勝負!! (Challenge!!)
  23. 突撃!! (Onslaught!!)
  24. 覚悟しろっ (A resolute white)
  25. 白鳥のパ・ド・ドゥ (Swan’s Pas de deux)
  26. Un, deux, trois (One, two, three!)
  27. トゥシューズの夢物語 (Dreaming of the toe-shoes)
  28. Eyecatch〜café〜
  29. Rabbit House〜BAR TIME
  30. ときめきポポロン♪〜solo guitar ver.〜 (Tokimeki poporon ♪ Guitar version)
  31. 焼きたての香りに包まれて (Wrapped in a freshly-baked scent)
  32. さあはじまるよ! (Now, let’s begin!)
  33. 陽だまりの優しさ (The gentle sunlight)
  34. 秘めた想い (Hidden feelings)
  35. 琥珀色のロマンス (Amber-coloured romance)
  36. 懐かしい安らぎ (Peaceful nostalgia)
  37. ちょっぴりほろ苦さ (A little bittersweet)
  38. またのお越しを〜店主より, long ver. (Another visit – shopkeeper, long version)
  39. またのお越しを〜店主より, short ver. (Another visit – shopkeeper, short version)

  • I imagine that, with only one disk and thirty-nine tracks, the individual songs will probably average anywhere from 1:30 to 2:00 minutes in length. Despite being on the shorter side, the tracks from the first season’s soundtrack were able to capture the mood of a moment within its short running time. This is reflected in the page quote: the background music enhances the atmosphere in GochiUsa through the gentler pieces on the soundtrack.

I reiterate that these translations are probably only approximations at best, although they should at the minimum, make it easier to quickly identify the songs. There are only two more episodes left in GochiUsa’s second season, and the previous episode concluded with the girls making their way into the mountains for a summer retreat. The final two songs on the soundtrack suggest that there might be a possibility that where they’re headed might be close in proximity to the Hoto Bakery. If so, this will be an excellent way to end the second season, but at present, this remains purely within the realm of speculation. Whether or not this holds true, I’m looking forwards to this soundtrack: the music in GochiUsa, though often passed over in most discussion, contributes substantially to the anime’s atmosphere: in the first season, the presence of gentle piano and flute pieces, in conjunction with French-sounding elements reinforces the notion of an incredibly peaceful, relaxing setting. I imagine that the second season’s soundtrack will appropriately reflect on the new character dynamics that have been possible now that everyone’s role in GochiUsa has been well-established.

A Day in Search of E: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? Tenth Episode Impressions and Review

“When you acknowledge the integrity of your solitude, and settle into its mystery, your relationships with others take on a new warmth, adventure and wonder.” —John O’Donohue

The Christmas holidays approach, but things are presently very busy, with a pair of lab tours scheduled for the upcoming week, and besides the conference paper, I also need to implement a simulation of influenza infection, as well as add a new mechanism to the Giant Walkthrough Brain for AR. On top of that, there’s still the matter of Christmas shopping; consequently, I am most grateful that it’s Saturday, which means the tenth episode of GochiUsa has aired. This episode, Sharo and Rize are asked to help out with various clubs around their high school, learning in the process of an alumni who was somewhat of a polymath and was able to help out numerous clubs during her time as a student. Known only as Emerald, Rize and Sharo ask the sewing and blowdart clubs for help, eventually learning that said alumni was a student named Midori. The pieces fit together: when Aoyama is trying to evade her editor, who’s on her tail about a delayed submission, it’s inadvertently disclosed to Cocoa and Chino that Aoyama’s real name is Midori. Later, during her day off, Chino becomes engrossed in building a ship-in-a-bottle, and the others are busy with various things, leading Cocoa to become disappointed when no one’s available to spend the day with her. Dismayed that everyone readily takes up Rize’s invitation for an event, she declines a trip to the mountains and upon learning that Cocoa neglected to read her invitation, Chino does her best to convince Cocoa to join them.

Divided evenly into two sections with a short intermission, GochiUsa’s tenth episode first illustrates life at the prestigious academy that Rize and Sharo attend; it’s as Maya and the others have imagined, being a top-tier academy with the best gear. This part of the episode allows Rize and Sharo’s life at school to be depicted, and although Sharo’s feelings towards Rize have never been subtle, curiously enough, the two have not been given too much screen-time to show how they interact in Cocoa and the others’ absence. It turns out that, despite her admiration for Rize, Sharo herself is surprisingly capable in various things, and this does not go unnoticed: Rize compliments Sharo whenever she notices. As such, this first section shows that Rize and Sharo are definitely compatible as friends, giving an idea into how their days might go when they’re not working or hanging out. The episode’s second half quietly solves the mystery of who Emerald is, and transitions into Cocoa’s failed efforts to spend time with her friends on a day off. This provides Chino with yet another opportunity to express the side of her personality she’s normally hesitant of exhibiting: that she’s willing to act more akin to a little sister to coax Cocoa into coming with everyone illustrates just how much her outlook of Cocoa has changed since the beginning of GochiUsa. While Mocha may be viewed as the catalyst who accelerated Chino’s opening up to Cocoa, Chino had already shown signs of warming up to Cocoa back during the first season, illustrating the sort of impact that Cocoa imparts on the atmosphere in GochiUsa: it’s mentioned that Cocoa’s main contribution is that she’s able to make everything fun.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Up until now, only glimpses of Rize and Sharo’s school have been shown; this episode finally illustrates a bit more about life at said institute, showing that even in a town as quaint and small as theirs, there’s always something new to explore. Audiences have seen Cocoa and Chiya’s school, as well: it’s more similar to a Japanese high school relative to Rize and Sharo’s school, which may account for why events there aren’t often shown.

  • Rize and Sharo’s school apparently have an equestrian and blow-dart club, and more curiously, Rize’s natural talents make her highly coveted amongst her peers, as they try to recruit her into their respective clubs. Above, I mention polymathy, which is derived off the Greek for “(having) learned much”: it refers to individuals who are highly skilled with a wide range of fields, from the intellectual and artistic to physical: they have the depth to go with breadth. It’s somewhat related to being a jack of all trades, master of none, where one is reasonably competent with many things but is not an expert at any one thing, and I’ve been told that I’m “周身刀,無張利” (lit. “knives all over, none of which are sharp”) for likewise being capable with most of the things I pick up, without ever excelling at any one.

  • Sharo longs for Rize’s feelings to be reciprocated, and after demonstrating a hitherto hidden talent for blow-darts, Rize interlocks fingers with her in amazement, as she herself failed to nail any of the targets. Rize agrees to play against the club during their hunt for one “E”, an alumni who was a jack-of-all-trades and was said to have helped numerous clubs to succeed. As Sharo manages to win, the club’s member agrees to disclose that “E” was Midori, although who she is remains a mystery to Sharo and Rize.

  • Though yearning for another shot with the blow-darts, Sharo drags Rize away, saying that their mission is complete. The single ponytail suits Rize rather nicely: like Haruhi‘s Kyon, I’m rather fond of ponytails for reasons I can’t quite rationalise. I remark that in all of my GochiUsa posts, I’ve been romanising Sharo’s name with an “h” rather than as Syaro:  “Syaro” is technically correct, as it’s what the official documentation states, but force of habit means I’ll continuing using my romanisation.

  • This past week’s been quite busy: I attended a raclette party last Friday with some friends, then had an opportunity to watch 007 Spectre on Sunday after dim sum for lunch. It’s more formulaic in the sense of execution, and some transitions were a bit jagged, but on the whole, it was a fun movie that brought back elements from classic 007 films, including car gadgets, an intimidating henchman and Ernest Stavro Blofeld himself, complete with scar and a Turkish Angora.

  • This week, I spent most of my time touching up my conference paper and began working on my influenza model. Around midweek, one of my colleagues had his PhD defense, and in the upcoming week, I have a pair of presentations to help with. Things are definitely gearing up even though the year’s ending, but I’ve also looked ahead and have tried to schedule things so that I can achieve a reasonable life-work balance: besides my thesis work, I aim to finish Life is Strange and Battlefield: Hardline before the year ends, as well as watch some movies and take the time to read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

  • The Blue Mountain coffee is something that I tried only because of GochiUsa, and in it, I found a earthy, nutty-flavoured coffee that goes quite well with egg tarts. I find myself amazed at the seemingly infinite array of coffees and teas that are available whenever I go to a café: I can tell different teas apart without too much difficulty, but with coffee, I’m more unfamiliar. While serving Aoyama, a frustrated individual enters Rabbit House.

  • It turns out this is Aoyama’s editor, the same hapless kouhai who is ever-exasperated at Aoyama’s casual disregard for deadlines. She reveals that Aoyama’s given name is Midori, (緑, “Green”); audiences will immediately connect the pieces and realise that Aoyama is the jack-of-all-trades who once attended the same school as Rize and Sharo. Moreover, her editor would be the junior who kept Aoyama in the literature club.

  • Unlike Aoyama, I can’t afford to be this casual about deadlines: it’s quite adorable of how Aoyama attempts to drown out her editors’ protests, pretending her problems don’t exist, but she’s soon dragged off into the sunset. In reality, deadlines exist because things need to happen in a timely fashion: once they’re done, they’re done. As a TA, I try to be lenient and, while I won’t allow students to submit assignments after a deadline, I will allow them to resubmit if any issues arise that prevent me from fairly grading them.

  • This is me with a Gundam model kit, true story. Chino’s a huge fan of puzzles and individual activities, and has a bottle ship lined up for her day off. I build Gundam models, and over the summer, I assembled an HGUC RGM-89S Stark Jegan. There’s an MG 00 Raiser I have in storage right now: I bought it last December but never built it on account of being in Taiwan. I’m planning to build this during the winter break, and will hopefully finish before the New Year arrives.

  • I don’t get very many days off, but when I do, I use them to both get a bit of work done and relax a bit. Working from home confers the advantage of a bleeding-fast computer for graphics and game engines, as well as shaving forty minutes off my commute, but I lack a second screen at home, and armed with my incredibly vast library of awesome games, also presents the possibility for distractions. The conflicting forces results in my getting enough work done to not feel guilty when I load up a game.

  • It’s difficult to not feel bad for Cocoa when all of her friends remark that they’re busy: this happens to me on some occasions, and it can be quite disheartening, so when Cocoa finds that everyone is unavailable, I completely empathise. With that being said, it’s more a matter of bad luck more than anything: even I have coordinated several events with more than one attendee previously.

  • Cocoa gives off a similar semblance as that of a baby rabbit under some circumstances. GochiUsa does feature actual rabbits, but I find that, given the character dynamics in the anime, watching this anime is equivalent to watching rabbits frolic on YouTube on the basis that both experiences are immensely cathartic. This is why I rarely have any criticisms about anime that fall under the “cute girls doing cute things” subgenre; if it succeeds in taking my mind off something stressful, then the anime has done its job.

  • Earlier (i.e. where I mention Spectre), Rize was sending out some invitations for a mountain retreat. Today, I was invited to a Christmas party at my supervisor’s home out in the mountains and sat down to a delicious Trinidad-style lunch (flatbread with beef stew, prawns, pumpkin, eggplant and spinach), followed by tiramisu, fruit cups, and Turtle tea (a black tea with almond, sunflower, calendula petals, butterscotch chips and a hint of chocolate). It’s been quite some time since I’ve been there for a get-together, and this time, I was driving (previously, I got a ride with some of my colleagues at the lab). I took a wrong turn and wound up at a dead end, but was extricated by the app, which allows users to preload maps onto their iPhone and use Core Location to map one’s location. Thanks to, I was able to find my destination without any further difficulties.

  • By the time I got back home, a heavy fog had rolled in, and it’s only thickened since, so I’m glad I left while there was still light. Back in GochiUsa, under the impression that she’s not invited and thus, unwanted, Cocoa rage-quits. The colours in this scene seem less saturated, more subdued probably as a consequence of the lighting: it’s early morning, and it appears that the sun’s light is probably being scattered by suspended water droplets. On a winter day in my city, the presence of ice crystals scatter the light so things become whiter, and on days where the air is dry, sunlight takes on a more golden hue.

  • As of season two, GochiUsa‘s brought out Cocoa’s raspier, Bat-Bale voice on more than one occasion, typically, whenever she’s upset. It’s a new side to Cocoa’s character that we never saw from the first season, and so, while season one might present Cocoa as a happy-go-lucky, ever-cheerful girl who brightens up the environment around her, the second season accentuates the fact that Cocoa is also subject to jealousy owing to her experiences and consequently, becomes more plausible as a character.

  • It takes a surprising amount of effort to coax Cocoa out, and ultimately, it’s Chino who manages to succeed, although how much of this can be attributed to Chino will be left as an exercise to the viewer: it is entirely possible that Cocoa was merely packing, her feelings of jealousy already forgotten when offered an opportunity for adventure with her friends, and that she’s merely buying enough time to finish packing.

  • I neglected to mention this in the previous post, but the GochiUsa soundtrack for the second season will be releasing on Christmas Day, as it did last year. The cover art features the Hoto Bakery, and there are thirty-nine new tracks. I’ll be hopping on the translation of the track names in the near future; it’s become something of a tradition for me to translate the song names for the soundtracks that I look forwards to.

  • Some audience members wonder why Cocoa is capable of solving crosswords as quickly as she does after she confiscates one from Chino, in the hopes of encouraging the latter to enjoy the outdoors more. Armed with my incredibly vast knowledge of history (or at least, sufficient knowledge of history to bring this up!), I draw a comparison between Cocoa and some of the cryptographers from Bletchley Park, the latter of whom were recruited based on the proficiency in solving exceptionally difficult crosswords. The rationale is that an efficient crossword solver must be capable of spotting patterns from clues quickly, which corresponded with spotting patterns in German Enigma transmissions. This ties in with Cocoa, whose been presented as being quite gifted with mathematics and pattern-finding. Consequently, there should be no surprises that Cocoa can nail crosswords with this level of efficiency.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with a shot of the mountains, and remark that I’m presently 6-1-2-1 in my rock-paper-scissors: I played scissors and promptly tied Chino. Depending on the timing this week, I will aim to get a short impressions post on Kimi no Na Wa, Makoto Shinkai’s latest film (set for release in August 2016) and a talk on The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s Pavane for a Dead Princess, exploring why that song might have been selected as Yuki’s leitmotif for the anime, in addition to the aforementioned translation of GochiUsa‘s second season OST.

The girls roll towards the mountains as the credits roll, so I’m wondering if the next episode will be the first time where we’ll get to see some of the areas surrounding the town in GochiUsa. If this is the case, it’ll be a fine opportunity to depict more of the outdoors: most of GochiUsa has been spent indoors, and reflecting this, Chino is very much an indoors-person, preferring her puzzles and models over outdoor activities. Spending time outside, doing summer activities is a fine way of capitalising on the warm summer weather, and consequently, such an episode could be quite nice. With that being said, if there was any ambiguity before, it is plainly still summer in GochiUsa, which ends my hopes to see another Christmas episode. Granted, it will be a little strange to see summer activities with Christmas approaching, but in the previous season of GochiUsa, I watched the Christmas episode shortly after Canada Day during the depths of summer, when the days are long and the weather warm. So, the disconnect is not too substantial, and either way, it will be interesting to see what next week’s episode, titled “Stardust Mayim Mayim”, will entail. I do not believe I have anything major planned for the upcoming Saturday, so posting should return to a more normal schedule for the upcoming, penultimate episode.