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SoniAni- Super Sonico The Animation: Final Reflection

This is the greatest SoniAni review of all time.

Previously, I took a departure from the reflection typical format, introducing a single-episode review about my thoughts on the seventh episode. That was done because the episode was particularly special, and now, I return to provide my thoughts on the second half, as well as the entire season. From there on out, Sonico’s friends participate in solving a mystery of sorts, and help her manage a bewildering array of tasks at her university’s culture fair. Sonico herself has a few adventures when she finds a stray cat and helps a young girl named Ayaka discover the true meaning of Christmas, all the while helping the local shopping district stay in the black. As the year draws to a close with a concert, Sonico, Fuuri and Suzu perform a New Year’s Eve concert to reflect on everything that has occurred over the past year. One’s impression of SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation is that it is a series about everything and nothing. It’s a series about Sonico’s life seen from a very optimistic, hopeful perspective, and perhaps now, more than ever, shows like these are most welcomed for being able to lift the spirits and bring a little joy into life.

  • A quasi-murder mystery awaits viewers after episode seven. Subtle details interact with clichés to add a certain amount of character to SoniAni: between the ‘detective traps’ and Suzu’s hair spontaneously assuming different forms,  this episode proved entertaining as viewers watch Suzu and company try to figure out what happened to Sonico.

  • What SoniAni excels best at is its ability to portray Sonico and her friends under an incredibly diverse range of settings: the ninth episode features a campus cultural festival that sees a series of cascading errors, in turn forcing Sonico to take on everything simultaneously.

  • I’m not kidding about what I say in the opening quote at the top of the page. Granted, I believe that humility is a virtue and that boastfulness is counterproductive, but in this case, there are legitimate grounds for making the bold claim that this is the greatest SoniAni review of all time. My justification for thus is that discussion elsewhere about SoniAni is surprisingly lacking or limited. Conversely, my discussions are more substantial on the virtue that they are graced by beautiful screenshots.

  • Of note was the bizarre fixation on Sonico’s headphones, which some individuals have dedicated paragraphs and hours to complaining about; from a rational perspective, the headphones are merely an aesthetic element, and thus, decrying such a trivial element so vehemently reflects on one of the unsavoury tendencies of the anime community, to get lost in the minutiae and lose sight of bigger picture.

  • It’s not even noon hour yet, and Sonico is exhausted from helping her café out and covering for another model. Fortunately, Suzu and Fuuri step up to the plate and, in essence, allow Sonico to split into three in a manner reminiscent of how Harry is moved to the Barrow in The Deathly Hallows.

  • Thanks to Suzu and Fuuri’s efforts, Sonico is able to assist everyone who requested her help, and the cultural festival ends up being a success. At my university, there are no cultural festivals, but open houses for new students are hosted every year; despite having graduated from my program, my presence is still occasionally requested such that there is additional help.

  • Sonico gives a presentation about whales as the day draws to an end, bringing to mind an event I participate in every so often. During the summers and throughout the academic year, there are programs that encourage interests in the computer sciences among high school students on campus, and I am involved, presenting some of my work to promote interest in an ever-changing, innovative field that is software development.

  • The reviews posted at MyAnimeList level several complaints against SoniAni, including excessive fanservice, pointless elements and poor music that “scorn the viewer’s intelligence with shoddy craftsmanship that is intentionally brash”. I can immediately pull some counterexamples from memory: the fanservice is surprisingly disciplined, and the music, though nothing awe-inspiring, enhances the series. The show helps intelligent viewers relax, and the craftsmanship is able to bring out such a laid-back atmosphere in the show. I conclude that those who feel the compulsion to complain about SoniAni probably have never really known what it is like to put in effort and work hard towards an objective.

  • Sonico has an affinity for kittens that ends up giving episode ten its primary focus. This episode was particularly light-hearted, and I’ve noted in my Someone’s Gaze talk that I have a fondness for small animals like bunnies, hamsters and kittens. This character may seem a little unusual for someone who spends downtime reading Tom Clancy novels and playing Battlefield 3, but it is a part of being multidisciplinary!

  • It turns out the “stray” munchkin cat Sonico finds was merely lost, and spends the episode trying to return to its mother. Despite some rough play between the munchkin and Sonico’s cats, the other cats come to the former’s rescue and saves it from a dog in a thrilling manner.

Originally, I began watching SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation partly because I was curious to check out what such an anime would entail. As the mascot of Nitro+, speculation ran wild that the series would focus on excessive anatomy lessons and not merit any watching whatsoever. When the series itself came out, viewers were so focused on Sonico’s headphones that they completely ignored any other aspect of the show. Of course, SoniAni did rise above and beyond the call: each episode represents a self-contained mini-adventure for the viewers, flinging Sonico, Suzu and Fuuri into a variety of ordinary and extraordinary situations. Watching them work together and struggle togather gave this series character, and as such, almost contrary to all initial expectation, SoniAni provided a unique take on life lessons, suggesting that kindness and friendship is an indespensible ally wherever things go south.

  • SoniAni would have probably been more appropriately aired in the fall season and ended near Christmas: when this episode ended, I wished it was Christmas once more, but the fact is, it’s nearly April, and after exams, summer begins again. Christmas and New Year episodes feel out of place in the middle of the year.

  • This scene was particularly amusing: I am a gamer and therefore, can relate to the concept of health bars and vitality. One of the most hilarious aspect about Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is the idea of double damage. In some cases, a well timed attack will inflict twice the damage, and the player’s KO sound will actually finish playing before the health bar is completely drained.

  • Sonico’s grandmother demonstrates an admirable command of the English language: I finally caught on by the halfway point and realised that she’s voiced by Kikou Inoue, who provided the voice to Ah! My Goddess!‘s Belldandy.

  • The Christmas episode is centred around Sonico and her friends’ efforts to raise business at the local shopping district after profits drop when a department store opens. Despite lacking the same resources as the latter, the community association is able to use clever means in drawing in customers.

  • When I was younger, I read a short paper titled “Engineers take the fun out of Christmas”: basically, a group of engineers at the municipal building regulations department applied a collection of computations to show that, even with magic or other superhuman means, Santa Claus could not accomplish his feat of covering every house in the world to deliver gifts to good children. Witty but cynical, that short paper was incredibly amusing to read.

  • Ayaka discovers the true Christmas spirit when “Santa Claus” delivers her gift: that her family is together for Christmas.

  • The season concludes with a final concert from First Astronomical Velocity on New Year’s Eve. I personally would prefer such a concert in lieu of the ones I normally watch on New Year’s Eve, as First Astronomical Velocity somehow puts on a much more personal, heartfelt performance despite being a fictional band.

  • It is necessarily true that SoniAni (or all anime, for that matter) does not requires intellectual content to be meaningful. This is a position I have mentioned countless times earlier, and to that, I restate that if I like something, I don’t need to justify it using pseudo-intellectual means. Similarly, it is quite unnecessary to rage against something one doesn’t like using pseudo-intellectual means.

  • Sonico’s grandmother puts on an impressive show while Sonico is waiting for her guitar to be restrung after one of its strings fail mid-concert. One of the aspects about SoniAni that I found unusual was the fact that Sonico always seems to have an automatic safety net for when things go south, bringing to mind Master Chief John-117’s luck. From personal experience, I have to take the initiative of ensuring that I have all my safety nets because my luck isn’t that good.

  • This shot of the (more or less) fully assembled cast concludes my SoniAni post. Given that the soundtrack music does contribute to SoniAni‘s mood, I will be inclined to check it out. Some of the vocal songs are quite good, and there is one motif from the background music that I’ve  informally dubbed “Sonico’s theme” and will definitely to listen to in full.

At the end of the day, SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation is something that definitely exceeded expectations, and I was quite pleased to have had something simple and light-hearted to look forwards to every week. For much of the first half, I found the series to be reasonably entertaining, but my opinion shifted into “will recommend” territory following the seventh episode. I would quite happily recommend SoniAni to viewers, not so much for the music or character designs, but rather, the gentle elements of benevolence and openess that permeates the entire series. SoniAni thus joins Tamayura and Non Non Biyori as excellent anime for unwinding after a difficult day, and as the future draws nearer, I am immensely thankful that these iyashikei (healing anime) are so readily available. When I watch shows like these, for a few moments, I am swept away into a more slowly-paced world, and my own worries lessen as I take a step back to relax.

SoniAni- Super Sonico The Animation: Star Rain and some personal introspection

“I will do a talk on The Pilot’s Love Song. But first, I must apologise.”
“Apologise for what?”
“For this.”
—Me, to the readers

While on a trip to discover inspiration for her lyrics, Sonico converses another woman on the way to her stopover in Niigata. She encounters a glassmaker in Tainai City while taking cover from the rain; the latter teaches her to make a little accessory. The next day, Sonico heads towards the local hot springs, meeting people and encountering many sights along the way. After checking into the hot springs and taking a dip, she tries to find her way to an observatory but gets lost in the woods. However, she manages to follow a raccoon to where the observatory is, becoming awed by the starlit sky.

  • This interruption to the usual program was a necessary one: twelve hours ago, I suddenly realised that this episode, despite its easy-going pacing, is probably the catalyst to one of the most important realisations I’ve had for a while as far as non-academic and non-career matters go.

  • I’ve now been driving around long enough to go for my full license. Once I learn how to merge safely, I will be ready for the exam and ready to hit the open roads.

  • One of the passengers on the bus shares macarons and conversation with Sonico. Back during the summer, one of my relatives gave me macarons and moose meat for providing some technical assistance. Sonico loves macarons, a confectionery that is popular in France and melts in the mouth. For me, I’m more of a main-dish person, but I admit that macarons are rather nice.

  • While the specifics behind the other woman’s story are never covered, it is reasonable to go about depicting things in this manner, reflecting on how we only know about the world around us and those close to us. Sonico’s sleep patterns are hugely amusing, and I do exhibit the tendency to sleep through alarms on occasion, although for the most part, my internal clock is quite effective at getting me up in the mornings.

  • To reach the farthest corners of my province, a car is necessary, since trains don’t exist and the Greyhounds only cover a limited amount of distance.

  • Despite my eternal longing to visit Japan, I’ve come to realise that the foothills outside of town are equally as beautiful as the Japanese countryside: I’ve had the opportunity to stop in small towns in the southern regions of the province under the mountains, and there is a sense of peace there not unlike the feeling I get from seeing imagery of rural Japan.

  • Sonico scampers off to find some cover after an unexpected rain storm. Right about at this point in the episode, I recalled that a friend in Japan shared some analogous experiences with Sonico. I’ll discuss that more in the actual paragraphs.

  • An open mind is what leads to the most fun: this was proven twice for me when I helped arrange two family vacations in the mountains, about an hour’s drive from the city. With me at the helm for planning, we explored rather than visit pre-determined objectives and those turned out to be some of the most fun vacations I’ve ever had.

  • A long time ago, I was at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and watched a live demonstration of glass blowing as part of the tour. However, my family decided against the purchase of glassware owing to how American customs handles luggage and packages. Sonico, on the other hand, crafts a small glass bead and doesn’t need to cross customs. To me, that glass bead represents the possibility of open ended-ness.

  • Sonico boards another bus to a hot springs after visiting the glass blower’s shop, revealing more beautiful depictions of the Japanese countryside. The unique setup in SoniAni presents the possibility for much creative freedom, and insofar, the show has explored a lot of topics, all of which have proven to be fun.

I don’t normally do single episode reviews mid-way into a season, and in fact, I was originally set to write the midway point review for The Pilot’s Love Song, but there was something about the seventh episode in SoniAni that particularly caught my attention. The episode itself wasn’t particularly substantial as far as comedy or story is concerned. However, as the episode progressed, the calming scenery, relative absence of dialogue and presence of subtle ambient sounds led me to recall a feeling I experienced while watching Tamayura ~More Aggressive~. This feeling was that, throughout my undergraduate career, I haven’t really been living; so focused was I on the future, that I completely forgot to really take things easy and go exploring. In “Star Rain”, Sonico travels about the distance of from my city to the Continental Divide on her own, with the aim of exploring for the sake of exploring. There’s no set objective and no central aim: Sonico discovers joys from the subtle things that can only be seen when the mind is content to go with the flow, seeing several para-gliders, learning (for presumably the first time) about glass-blowing, enjoys macarons with a fellow passenger and enjoys a brilliant star-lit sky after getting lost.

  • Matters associated with life are not always readily apparent, but rather, may take some time to figure out. I am a little late as far as figuring out how I find my happiness goes, but better to understand now, before the next step, where things will get busy, than it would be to figure out after I seek full-time employment. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with being busy, but I do have a tendency to forget to relax when I’m in the midst of my work.

  • Given such, I think that this is my last summer before things will gear up for the ultimate journey called “being a productive member of society”, I will take one final chance to explore the world that I may reach under my own resources. That world may be over an ocean, in the next province, or an hour’s bus ride from where i live.

  • An old Chinese proverb says that every journey begins with a single step. Accordingly, I will probably begin by exploring what lies in my backyard: there is the Telus Spark Science Centre, Heritage Park, Glenbow Museum and even a full-out provincial park right here in city limits, all of which can be reached either by my nearly-elite vehicle operating skills or city transit.

  • I am immensely grateful that, unlike our cousins up north, my town is rich in culture: besides the attractions mentioned above, there are also concerts. I resolve to definitely attend a Video Games Live Concert the next time they’re in town, and if that isn’t realised in five years, I’m almost certain I’ll able to travel to one.

  • The reason I was able to obtain enough content for twenty figure captions in this post was mainly because this post is largely a personal reflection for me, rather than a talk about SoniAni per se. This talk therefore ended up being one of those so-called “bucket lists” people make, except this one is smaller scale, and I hope to at least get half of it done before I prepare for the next stage of my education.

  • I love Sonico’s happy expression: it does bring back a sort of K-On!-esque feeling, as far as Yui is concerned. Of course, Sonico is somewhat analogous to Yui, except the former manages to be hyper-competent despite having nearly the same ditzy attributes found in the latter.

  • The animation in SoniAni is about standard fare, but like Upotte!!, landscapes are gorgeous. I assure readers that I will get my halfway point talk about The Pilot’s Love Song before the week is over, and beyond that, I should probably get around to talking about the Koi to Senkou to Chocolate OVA, Bioshock Infinite (which I had just beat recently), and the remainder of the Battlefield 3 campaign. Looking to the future, I’ll also do a talk on the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 multiplayer, how it handles compared to Battlefield 3 (that’s two separate posts) and a full, unbiased, fair reflection on Wake Up, Girls!. The timeline for this stuff: before March ends.

  • I have a feeling that this image will be considered to be “the most interesting image on this page”, hence my decision to include it here. For a series about Sonico, known her for physical attributes, SoniAni has proven to be remarkably disciplined, minimising the free anatomy lessons except where it serves to further the humour in a scene, and even then, a smart amount of restraint is exercised.

  • Sonico gets lost in the forest briefly after setting out to the observatory to enjoy some stargazing, and curiously enough (though perhaps unsurprisingly), I found similarities in the stories my friend has recounted over IM. There can be difficulties while traveling alone, but also great joy. I must remember to thank said friend for helping me remember that these small things in life are as important as getting publications out and winning grants.

  • While I haven’t stargazed properly for nearly ten years, a few nights ago, I saw the first Aurora Borealis I had seen in over seven years. The dancing curtains of green light filled the northern skies, periodically curling up into bright bands and unfurling to reach across the sky. The light show even formed a heart-shape for a few moments, and the coldness of the night was forgotten. I will note that Sonico is stargazing during the summer, and I can see Orion in one of the scenes: the Belt of Orion, Betelgeuse and Sirius can be seen. Japan is located in the northern hemisphere, so during the summer, these stars shouldn’t be visible.

Soncio’s experiences would prima facie appear trivial, although for me, this is simply not the case. “Star Rain” struck a resonant chord with me because I have a friend who is in Japan right now on an exchange program and has analogous experiences. While classes are off, said friend is enjoying travelling in a foreign nation; there is the opportunity to travel the road less traveled, to see the more subtle elements that would be missed via traditional tours, but also, encountering the occasional unplanned hiccough. Sonico’s reactions mirror those of my friend’s: in both cases, inconvenience is overcome with an open mind and a bit of luck. This also allows me to segue back to earlier: when I mentioned that I wasn’t really living, my life has largely consisted of writing research papers, implementing and testing physiology software, going to classes, studying, and gaming in my off time. This episode gently reminded me that there is definitely more to life than that: I live in a moderately large city close to the mountains. I suddenly realise there are many, many attractions that I haven’t visited in my city for over ten years. Should I exhaust these local attractions, travelling outside the city is as simple as a Greyhound ticket. For summer 2014, I resolve to visit more of the local attractions in town, and the latter can be done if time permits. Where do I stand on the episode? This is a personal reflection, and I justify taking the time to do a full-length talk on one episode because “Star Rain” managed to evoke something in me. This episode made me think, and although SoniAni might not have been the deepest or the best anime, the fact that this episode helped me towards understanding what I seek definitely counts for something.

SoniAni- Super Sonico The Animation: Halfway point reflection

“Where do we begin?”

SoniAni is this season’s light-hearted romp through a university student’s life: after barely making a concert between her modelling job and her friends’ transportation woes, Sonico visits Okinawa while on a photoshoot, reminisces about how she got into music with inspiration from a senior at her high school, spends time with a magazine editor asked to document her everyday life and experiences DayZ first-hand when an adipose-combating ointment leads to some unintended side effects. Everything that happens in an episode can be summarised in a few sentences, reflecting on how simplistic and relaxing this anime is.

  • To the best of my knowledge, there are no other sources of discussion or images for SoniAni out there: for the time being, my twenty screenshots of the series so far will probably be one of the few collections of SoniAni screenshots in existence.

  • The correct translation of the girls’ band, 第一宇宙速度 (Daiichi Uchū Sokudo), is “First Cosmic Velocity”, but producers (and everyone else) refer to the band as “First Astronomical Velocity”. The reasons for doing so are probably to minimise confusion with the scientific application of the first cosmic velocity unit: this is the minimum velocity with which a body must be launched to put it into a circular orbit around the Earth (ignoring drag forces and planetary rotation). The body will be bounded to the earth’s gravitational field in a circular orbit around the Earth, and the unit is equivalent to 28440 kilometers per hour.

  • The second and third cosmic velocities are respectively defined as the minimum velocity with which a body must be launch to overcome the Earth’s gravitational field (but remain bounded by the Sun’s gravitational, equal to 40320 kilometers per hour) and the minimum velocity that is necessary for a body to overcome the Earth’s and Sun’s gravitational fields (60012 kilometers per hour). Because the last figure captions were so educational, the above image ought to offset the seriousness.

  • Suzu recounts how she met Sonico: a long time ago, she ran into a nervous looking girl and enlisted her for First Astronomical Velocity. Suzu Fujimi is said to be witty and capable of extraordinary leadership, but is also quick to anger and skilled with Zangief’s combat-style.

  • “Shit, did you see that?” “Probably birds.” “Wait, I saw it too! Oh, there is something up there.” “Yeah, the bush moved, did you see it?” That exchange is from the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 mission “Heart of Darkness”. Even though the animation in SoniAni is standard-fare and looks about the same as most anime out there, there are occasions that lead me to double back and take a closer look: in this case, it looks like the trees outside look different compared to an image from earlier: they were deciduous trees and now they look coniferous. Sonico and her friends don’t find this notable here: she is intently writing down everything Fuuri wishes her to buy while in Okinawa.

  • The guy wearing the daemon mask is Kitamura, Sonico’s manager. He is never seen without the mask (much like how Sonico is never seen without her headphones), and is highly protective of Sonico, but also has a very kind nature; Kitamura’s presence brings to mind Graham Aker for one reason or another.

  • I have a feeling I am the only blog anywhere on the English-speaking side of the internet to have provided screenshots and a well-written summary of my thoughts on SoniAni so far. Other discussions are woefully short, incomplete or incoherent, lacking screenshots and structure. I think readers would prefer I keep to my present styles, rather than settle for less 😉

  • Owing to its proximity to China, Okinawan cuisine bears some similarity to Chinese and Southeast Asian styles, making extensive use of herbs and spices. Contrasting Japan, meat is far more common compared to seafood despite Okinawa’s proximity to the sea, with the latter being difficult to preserve in the climate.

  • Next to the Kyoto region and Hokkaido (for its rich history and seafood, respectively), I would love to visit Okinawa owing to its status as the birthplace of the Gōjū-ryū style. Known in English as the hard-soft style, Gōjū-ryū is characterised by a combination of graceful and powerful movements in its kata. It’s also one of the older branches of karatedo and has a small number of kata compared to the other branches.

  • Fuuri’s background is something that SoniAni has still not yet explored fully: some sources draw information from the visual novel to build Fuuri’s background, although given that the anime is built differently, elements from the visual novel may not be present in the anime. From a personal perspective, I hope that the anime is disjoint from the visual novel, since Fuuri’s background might be a little outrageous.

Thus far, I feel that SoniAni is idealistic and hopeful: Sonico embodies the ideas of honest hard work and optimism, but she is also remarkably blasé about some of the questionable situations she’s put into, resolving to try her best in everything she does without giving the circumstances additional thought. While this naïveté is admirable and amusing, it also reminds me of Bruce Wayne’s exchange with Alfred in The Dark Knight Rises. After being asked about what he is to do when he encounters Bane, Bruce responds that “I’ll fight harder, I always have”. However, Alfred counters by telling Bruce to “Take a good look. His speed, his ferocity, his training! I see the power of belief.” When Bruce eventually fights Bane for the first time, he is completely outmatched. The lesson gained from this comparison (as far as its relevance to SoniAni) goes, is that Sonico’s willingness to work harder is simultaneously at odds with harsh reality, but may also belie her determination to get back up if she stumbles.

  • Sonico’s guitar is named “Daydream”, for being able to convey the stuff of dreams through music, and episode four is dedicated to its origins, as well as how Sonico herself got into music to begin with. This guitar belonged to a senior named Tomano, and was given to her by another precursor. She leaves for another country, giving this guitar to Sonico after the latter demonstrates a heartfelt desire to play rock music, and they part under grey skies.

  • I have not seen such a scene in an anime since the summer of 2012, when the K-On! Movie was released. While I’ve no experience with any instruments involved in light music, a long time ago, I was a clarinet player for my middle school’s concert band, and eventually taught myself to play the trumpet for the Jazz band, as well.

  • SoniAni turns out to be about a little of everything, never focusing on one aspect in Sonico’s life for more than an episode. This multidisciplinary aspect comes across as a little jarring for some, but from a personal end, it makes sense. People tend to do a variety of things as extracurricular activities or personal hobbies (assuming they don’t live on forums, of course).

  • I found this scene to be quite entertaining, watching two students discuss their thoughts of the latest magazine shoot with Sonico, who is seen hiding behind her guitar case here out of embarrassment.

  • The events of the fifth episode are set in motion when a magazine sends one of its staff, Sakaya, to do a feature on Sonico. Despite feeling it to be a chore, she takes the assignment.

  • I would note the different between a bar and a pub, but I’ve already done so for my introductory post to SoniAni. Recently, I found that the foolproof way to avoid drinking is to drive and offer to be a designated driver if need be. In the company of understanding friends, no one will provide any pressure to drink.

  • It turns out that Sonico majors in marine biology, a subset of the biological sciences that leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. Because I’m more than a thousand klicks to the nearest ocean, my university provides special facilities for those majoring in marine biology at the Western Canadian Universities Marine Sciences Society. How does the job market look for a marine biologist? Marine biologists can find occupations as a biological technician, ichthyologist, fishery biologist, marine mammalogist, microbiologist, systems analyst, or a mathematician.

  • Sayaka discovers that Sonico is just an ordinary girl with headphones: that’s why Sonico has such an optimistic outlook on life and why she’s willing to give everything her all. Through this project, Sayaka rediscovers her own dreams and thanks Sonico for helping her indirectly realise this.

  • The last time I was on a cruise ship, it was 2003 and the journey was a loop around the Inside Passage, which has a relatively cool, rainy climate. The suggested attire for the summer is a light jacket and T-shirt, contrasting the swim gear Suzu and Sonico are seen in here.

  • I’ve omitted the zombies simply because it’s a shock factor that is more entertaining when animated, rather than statically displayed as pictures. Speaking of zombies, I am tempted to buy the DayZ standalone game from Steam: it’s only thirty USD at the time of writing and offers a truly open world, where one’s only goal is to survive a zombie apocalypse by foraging for supplies and lasting as long as possible.

This talk isn’t supposed to be a psychoanalysis about Sonico given what we’ve seen in SoniAni, but an assessment of how the anime is faring at the midway point. The anime itself is solid: it distinctly feels like K-On! in places with the music and lighthearted nature of the band, as well as the absence of focus that gives the anime a very casual feeling. Sonico takes on Yui’s role as the lead guitarist and vocalist, Suzu shares characteristics with Mio and Sawa (for being the bassist and expressing an unhealthy interest in giving Sonico crazy outfits), and Fuuri is a hybrid between Ritsu and Mugi (she’s the drummer but also has a fluffy personality). The anime is part slice-of-life and part fanservice, but the inclusion of subtle elements, such as Sonico’s segues into modelling and music, add a bit of depth to her character. There isn’t really much more I can add to this discussion, and I imagine that the same will hold true for the second half, but one thing is certain: SoniAni is a suitable anime for warding off despair associated with the dark depths of winter, and as the anime draws to a close, spring will be upon us once again.

SoniAni- Super Sonico The Animation: First Episode Impressions

SoniAni is one of this season’s slice-of-life anime, set around the daily life of a girl called Sonico, and her endeavours in academics, modelling career, music and part-time job as a waitress. The first episode proceeds at a very relaxed, casual manner, dropping viewers directly into the midst of Sonico’s life, which is set in a very optimistic and cheerful world. In addition to being the mascot of Nitro+, the anime illustrates that Sonico’s life is very busy, filled to the brim with activities typical of the above-average undergraduate student. SoniAni, thus, marks one of the few anime I have to be set in a university setting, which is appropriate given the direction the show has taken insofar: some of the moments or events are unsuited for the high school level, even if the remainder of Sonico’s activities outside her modelling career are reasonably safe. Of course, as we’re only an episode in at this point in time, it’s too early to ascertain whether or not this anime does its job, but with a very cheerful disposition, and artwork of a consistently high quality, the anime will probably succeed in helping push the Nitro+ brand further.

  • Despite being depicted by various artists, Sonico’s trademark traits (i.e. her headphones, colour and large bust) are typically kept consistent to ensure that her character remains recognisable as the mascot to Nitro+, a company that develops visual novels.

  • Sonico is sitting through what appears to be an ecology class and answers a question posed by the lecturer rather nicely. Sonico might be considered by some to be the personification of an ideal, being academically capable, but also managing several careers and is proficient with a guitar. Sonico is presented as being hardworking and ensures that she does is done to the best of her capacity.

  • Sonico’s headphones accompany her wherever she goes, even when she’s in lectures or while swimming. A sharp-eyed viewer will notice a picture of a younger Sonico with a smaller pair of these headphones later in the anime. Because these headphones are a visual signature, I’m going to completely disregard existing discussions about their practicality.

  • My spidey senses tell me that this is probably going to be the reason viewers will continue watching SoniAni. They also tell me that I may be short on material for future posts, which may or may not be limited to ten screenshots each.

  • Of course, if future episodes continue the trend and provide scenes such as these, I’ll probably just find something else to talk about for the figure captions, like the NP Complete problem. If, for whatever reason, one is interested in having a variant of this or the image above without the camera alignment cross-hairs, I could probably clean the images up and return the results reasonably quickly. Requests are being accepted in the comments section (hint hint).

  • Sonico occasionally helps out at her grandmother’s Izakaya, the Japanese equivalent of a pub. These establishments serve smaller dishes at a more casual pace, including Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), Kushiyaki (grilled meat or vegetable skewers), Sashimi (slices of raw fish) and Karaage (bite-sized fried chicken), in addition to sake, beer and cocktails. A ways back, one of my friends noted that a pub was a superior place to hang out relative to a bar on the virtue that a pub serves more substantial meals, such as burgers, meat pies and steaks, in additional to traditional bar food such as nachos and wings. I myself prefer pubs, as I can hang out with friends and order a substantial meal before downing a few drinks (or else dibs being the designated driver, which spares me of having to drink).

  • SoniAni‘s inner K-On! is being channeled here: Sonico is part of a band called First Cosmic Velocity, and here, she is speaking with Suzu Fujimi, the band’s bassist, although at present, her background is not yet known. First Cosmic Velocity is minus a keyboard player, though, compared to Houkago Tea Time. I wonder if the music will be as memorable as that in K-On!, whose music is still something I listen to on a regular basis and use in the game Audiosurf. This is, of course, a note to do a short talk on Audiosurf somewhere in the future.

  • Fuuri Watanuki is the drummer in First Cosmic Velocity and is said to be suffering from a broken heart. She’s sleeping off postprandial somnolence: notice the pile of plates to her left.

  • Reading the documentation carefully finds that the story in SoniAni is to be motivated by a concert in a later episode where Fuuri and Suzu are unable to make it to the performance venue, leaving Sonico to play on stage alone.

  • The first episode ends with Sonico preparing to perform the new song Suzu has prepared, and I’ll probably have a better reason to watch SoniAni beyond Sonico’s assets alone, with what is set to happen in upcoming episodes.

As far as episode one is concerned, its depiction of Sonico’s everyday life is one that is remarkably similar to that of a high-achieving university student. Not too long ago, I was an assistant instructor for Chinese language classes and Gojuryu karate; in the same year, I was also spear-heading an effort to publish a paper to a journal, on top of an MCAT. I eventually pitched the extra-curricular activities to finish a thesis the previous year, but life is more or less similar for most students, as they balance academics with part-time jobs and other events. With very little in the way of story for the present, however, SoniAni is going to be a series that few would be inclined to continue following as the season wears on, as the pacing is rather slow and wouldn’t appeal to those seeking something more substantial in the story and world-building departments. Of course, for other viewers, Sonico herself is probably sufficient a motivator for continuing to follow this show: easy on the eyes and with a friendly personality, I happen to fall in the second set of people and will continue blogging this in my typical format (i.e. there will be two more SoniAni posts: one mid-season and one final reflection) such that screenshots can be viewed by the interested reader. I will bring up one final point: unlike other parties elsewhere, at the very least, my posts are written in full, coherent sentences, rather than bizarre bullet point summaries.

Winter 2014 Anime

A mere two months after the Fall 2013 anime preview was listed, the winter 2014 preview is now out. We casually note that the fall season hasn’t even begun yet, and at present, my mind is on anything other than the Winter 2014 offerings, including what is to air in a few days, as well as coursework and applications that will act as stepping stones into employment and of course, Battlefield 4: having confirmed my GPU will run the game at 1080p on high settings, I look forward to its release and may opt to buy a physical copy as the opportunity presents itself. However, for the present, I apologise to people looking up Winter 2014 anime and getting stuck with my 2013 previews here: here is the poster of the shows that will be expected to kick off 2014.

I previously noted that of the available offerings, there were no shows that caught my interest. On closer inspection, there are presently three series I plan on watching Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, Saki Zenkoku-hen and SoniAniSuper Sonico The Animation-. I believe these three shows offer a good spread of content: I’m especially interested in seeing what Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta has to offer, and for the present, I have some serious catch-up to do in Saki before I can begin the second season, but this has happened before: upon hearing about second seasons and so on, I do catch up quickly enough (think OreImo and Infinite Stratos), although here, I hope that catching up with an interesting series doesn’t result in the series burning out as previously experienced. As for Super Sonico: The Animation, all I am at liberty to say is that it could and probably will add some zeal to the blog. Earlier readers may have noticed that I was planning to watch Wake Up, Girls!, but my interest in the series waned, and I probably won’t be following it from the start (although as the season wears on, that may change).

Wake up, Girls!
Green Leaves Entertainment is a tiny production company on the verge of going out of business in Sendai, the biggest city in Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region. The agency once managed the careers of magicians, photo idols, fortune-tellers, and other entertainers, but its last remaining client finally quit. With their talent pool depleted, the president Tange decides to produce an idol group. On the brash president’s orders, the dissatisfied manager Matsuda heads out to scout raw talent, encountering one Mayu Shimada.

  • The events in wake up, Girls! are said to be set in the Tokohu region; director Yutaka Yamamoto (of Lucky Star and Kannagi) noted the anime is directly intended to raise tourism and expedite recovery efforts after the 2011 Tokohu Earthquake and Tsunami devastated the area. The selection process for the voice actors playing the seven idols in the anime were chosen from amateur ranks through an open audition with more than 2,000 applicants, similar to the anime. At the present, the anime is looking to be one of the most interesting of the 2014 line, and I’ll likely watch it once Winter 2014 actually rolls around.

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta

After a revolution stripped Prince Kalel Albus of both his parents and his humanity,  blinded by hatred and revenge, he sets off on a journey to avenge his parents and himself. However, upon taking to the skies and the floating islands that grace it, he finds not revenge, but compassion, friendship, and love, upon encountering a girl called Claire who happens to be the symbol of the very revolution he hates. In a story of aerial combat, the good and bad of romance, and transformation of the heart, Prince Kalel will find that what he was looking for was not revenge, but rather, forgiveness.

      • If things go well, I foresee an incredible world of air combat, adventure and discovery set in a fantastical world. I absolutely love anime set in fantastical worlds, and though I was late to the party with Valkyria Chronicles, I did enjoy the way things were set-up: solid world-building contributes substantially to an anime’s capacity to immerse and captivate the viewers, and from those tenants,  this show looks to be very promising.

Saki Zenkoku-hen

Miyanaga Saki was a high school freshman who didn’t like mahjong, until her childhood friend dragged her to Kiyosumi High School’s mahjong club and her love for the game was reborn. Now she and the rest of the Kiyosumi team – including prodigy Haramura Nodoka (Koshimizu Ami), reckless club president Takei Hisa, Hisa’s meganekko best friend Someya Mako, and the rambunctious and taco-loving Kataoka Yuuki – have fought their way through regionals to earn their place in the National Inter High School Mahjong Championships. They need to make it all the way to the championships so Saki can try to reconcile with her estranged older sister (and the reigning champion) Miyanaga Teru, but there will be plenty of tough competition along the way.

      • I don’t know how to play Mahjong, nor have I seen this series previously at the time of writing. This means I will turn my machine’s substantial video conversion powers towards turning this anime into something I can watch on a mobile device and help me catch up.  For parties wondering, the image above is official art, and if I were to be entirely honest, I am partially compelled to watch Saki for interesting character dynamics between Saki and Nodoka as much as for the supernatural mahjong and Girls und Panzer-like atmosphere.

SoniAni -Super Sonico The Animation-

Super Sonico is the pink haired mascot of the visual novel company Nitroplus and now appears in her own animation, which is centred around Sonico’s exciting daily life, centering around her blooming musical endeavors, modeling career, and friendships. She is accompanied by her two friends Fujimi Suzu and Watanuki Fuuri, both of whom also have a knack for music with the bass and drums respectively, in her adventures and together, they will form friendships while also promoting the Nitroplus (stylised “Nitro+”) brand.

    • I predict an anime that’s going to have very little in the way of a centralised story but may be quite pleasing to watch nonetheless (if only for the fanservice). Between modelling (not the design of computer models), concerts and everyday life, this anime may have a K-On!-esque feel to it, which would make it quite entertaining to watch, preferably far from other observers. From a blogging perspective, I’ll try and keep up to date with SoniAni and Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, while Saki will be blogged as time permits. Ordinarily, I think that just blogging about  Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta would be sufficient, but there are certain elements in SoniAni (namely, how hot Sonico is) that should make blogging it worthwhile.