“Fresh cooked Arctic Char: mmm! Wow…that’s unbelievable. Right now, my editor is watching this and thinking, ‘Man, I wish I were there. Catching them Char, and eating them too’. Right Barry? Oh, that’s so good!” –Les Stroud, Survivorman
With summer in full swing, Yūki feels disinclined to go fishing on account of the warm weather, but Hina feels that since they’d come to the clubhouse, it’d be worthwhile to do something. Yūki decides that to keep it simple – they’ll go for the Horse Mackerel fry, and this time around, they’ll use fishing rods without reels. The experience is supposed to be quite different, and these low-cost rods have their own advantages, as well. Hina has fun, although things slow down towards the evening. However, Yūki convinces the girls to stick around for a bit longer, since the evening is when fish begin coming in to feed. Hina ends up catching an adult Horse Mackerel, and it turns out that this is what Yūki had been setting the club up for. The girls end up with a sizeable catch and go about preparing the fish for consumption, but Hina struggles to properly filet the larger Horse Mackerel. The next day, the girls set up a grill and sit down to enjoy their fish with Sayaka, who’d invited herself to the party. While fishing one day, Hina catches a spiney fish. Natsumi suggests she carefully returns it, since they are highly poisonous, but with Makoto’s instruction (at Yūki’s behest), Natsumi and Hina come around. After Hina has Whiting tempura for dinner one evening, she asks if the Breakwater Club can go fishing for Whiting next, but learns that they’ll need live bait to do so. Frightened at the prospect of using worms, Hina picks up artificial bait at the local shop instead, but spends the outing unable to catch anything. Yūki suggests to the dejected Hina that she look up the technique required when using artificial bait, since the others had taught her the way to use a rod when using live bait. As it turns out, Whiting are attracted by motion, and so, Hina’s been itching to try things out. While her first attempts are promising, a lack of fish prompts Hina to move to different spots to see what happens. While taking a break, Hina realises that the online guides she’s been following were for larger Whiting – lengthier bait corresponds to the smaller Whiting not being able to reach the hooks. After shortening the bait, Hina successfully catches her first Whiting. With their fish, the Breakwater Club prepare freshly-caught Whiting tempura. Yūki remarks that fishing is really about figuring things out for oneself, and a successful catch this is the reward of the activity. On the hottest day of summer, Hina and Natsumi decide to make a large stock of barley tea after the clubhouse runs out. Makoto notices that Hina and Natsumi have matching plushies. As it turns out, after their midterms ended, Natsumi visited Hina’s place so they could make plushies. When Makoto expresses an interest, Hina decides to show her how, and when Natsumi asks Hina about her interests in handicrafts, Hina replies that the time she’s spent with the Breakwater Club is fun precisely because of the people she gets to be with. All twelve episodes for Houkago Teibou Nisshi are now in the books, and despite an intermission brought about by the global health crisis, the anime remains immensely enjoyable and well-crafted.
Par the course for a slice-of-life series with an educational component, Houkago Teibou Nisshi introduces viewers to the nuances of fishing in detail: it is much more than the act of obtaining a fishing license, sticking bait on a hook and then whiling away an afternoon on a boat, as Westernised portrayals are wont to present the activity as. Through Hina’s inexperience and reluctance to come into contact with any insects, Houkago Teibou Nisshi showcases the varieties of fishing one can partake in using different techniques and equipment, illustrating just how varied fishing is even when one is unable to (or unwilling to) catch larger fish or use live bait. It becomes evident that fishing is very involved, but also very rewarding those who participate – in this manner, Houkago Teibou Nisshi speaks to the idea that activities in general are very accommodating, allowing individuals of all skill levels to have a good time, and also for beginners to pick things up at their own pace based on their comfort level. Despite her great fear of creepy-crawlies, Hina has come quite a ways since she met Yūki, developing an interest in fishing and even taking the initiative to go on her own trips to try out the things she’d learned from the others, as well as making suggestions for what to try and fish for next. While there are moments and days where Hina comes out disappointed, the Breakwater Club also help Hina learn the value of perseverance. Much as how Hina’s perseverance had allowed her to become proficient with handicrafts, taking the initiative to seek out new knowledge also helps Hina to improve her fishing. This is reiterated towards the series’ end, where Yūki encourages Hina to learn about how to make use of artificial bait works following a day of disappointment, and Hina at last finds success with her new-found knowledge. In conjunction with the fact that the Breakwater Club allow Hina to gradually step out of her comfort zone by selecting modes of fishing that do not frighten the daylights out of her, Hina comes to develop a great love for an activity that she never imagined she would participate in, and in doing so, Hina comes to cherish her foods to a much greater extent than before, appreciating the effort it takes to capture and prepare what ends up on her plate. She also realises that the Breakwater Club is fun precisely because she’s been able to hang out with people, whereas with Handicrafts, she’s always able to pursue it at her leisure, making fishing a superbly enjoyable and rewarding activity for her.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Houkago Teibou Nisshi is a very summer-like anime, and so, it is appropriate that its finale comes on the autumnal equinox; today marks the first day of autumn, and it’s a surprise to see summer pass by so quickly. This year’s been a bit of an unusual one, and present circumstances precluded any opportunity to travel into the mountains. However, there are more important things than travel, and I’ve been enjoying the beautiful summer weather of our area in alternative ways to do my part: this past week has been quite smokey on account of fires in the province over, but Sunday saw the skies clear up, making it perfect to take a walk under.
- Pole fishing is the practise of using no-reel fishing rods to catch fish. Both Japan and the West have their own no-reel techniques: in the West, the extremely long poles allow fishermen to reach distant or difficult-to-reach spots with great precision. The Japanese counterpart, tenkara fishing, was developed independently. The idea is that simple equipment would allow fishermen to catch fish without worrying about their gear, and tenkara fishing became popular, since these simple poles were far less costly than conventional rods with reels. In Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Hina quickly adjusts to pole fishing and finds it enjoyable, being a different way of catching the Horse Mackerel Fry.
- While pole fishing, the girls come across a variety of fish, including blackfish, red seabream and even a fine-patterned puffer (Takifugu poecilonotu). Hina finds herself enraptured by its small, rotund appearance. However, pufferfish are highly poisonous and difficult to prepare: the fine-patterned puffer contains the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, which blocks sodium channels. Further to this, Natsumi explains that these fish will take bait from rods, snap hooks and cut lines. To prevent trouble from befalling her, Hina returns it back into the ocean.
- As evening sets in, the Breakwater Club finds that they’d had a slower day. Natsumi had gotten bored and switched over to a more active form of fishing, but for Hina, the slower pacing of pole fishing suits her just fine. This attests to how different styles of fishing may appeal to different people. With nothing of note biting, the girls enjoy a peaceful sunset before preparing to head off. However, Yūki has another idea in mind: by evening, fish return into the tidal areas to feed, and so, it is during the evening that larger fish are the most active.
- When Hina gets a bite on her line, she’s shocked at how ferocious the fish is. She extricates an adult Horse Mackerel from the waters, which comes across as a complete surprise to her. Encouraged by Hina’s success, Natsumi and the others follow suit and drop their lines in the water. The Horse Mackerel in Houkago Teibou Nisshi are specifically, the Japanese variety (Trachurus japonicus). These fish can reach lengths of half a metre, and the average size is roughly a foot. After Hina catches her first, she stops to admire it, showing how she’s come to find beauty in the ocean’s life.
- After Hina makes the kill on the Horse Mackerel she’d caught, she loses focus of her surroundings upon seeing blood pour out of the fish. Natsumi remarks that since Hina’s not fainting anymore, she’s slowly getting used to things, although there are still moments that shock her. During this time, the others successfully catch Horse Mackerel of their own, and very soon, they have enough fish to prepare a meal with. Makoto subsequently walks Hina through the process of filleting a Horse Mackerel: after descaling the fish, one makes cuts underneath the pectoral fins on both sides to remove the head. Then, one makes cuts lengthwise along the top and bottom down to the tail, before making a cut along the ribs. In this way, three filets result, although Hina isn’t quite as deft as Makoto: her filets end up misshapen (but otherwise, still edible).
- Makoto also introduces viewers to an alternate method, where after the head is removed, a lengthwise cut is made along the spine. Once the cuts are removed, the fish is ready to be soaked in a 1.71 ᴍ solution of salt water for half an hour, and finally, the fish is ready to be refrigerated overnight. Learning traditional methods for preserving fish can prevent a lot of food from going to waste, and Houkago Teibou Nisshi goes the extra mile in presenting this sort of thing: every step, from fishing to preparation, is shown, so viewers understand the processes and their context. While the girls look forwards to enjoying their Horse Mackerel on white rice the next day, they worry that Sayaka might show up and rain on their parade. In a cruel turn of events, Sayaka happens to be nearby and immediately discovers the girls making preparations for tomorrow.
- Yūki’s rather displeased that their originally-peaceful lunch will be crashed, and instructs the others to get started as soon as possible so they can spend less time in the presence of a drunken Sayaka. However, Sayaka does appear to be mindful of the girls’ wishes, and refrains from getting hammered right off the start. While Makoto grills the fish, Sayaka reveals that she’s brought her smoker: in her spare time, Sayaka also appears to hunt, making use of snares and the like to catch game as large as boar and deer. She promises to treat the girls to some deer and boar at some point in the future.
- It suddenly strikes me that a hunting anime, making use of basic implements like deadfalls and snares, to compound bows, crossbows and even firearms, would be worth watching were it to be done in the same style as Houkago Teibou Nisshi. Such a series would need to feature post-secondary aged students, since the minimum age to hunt in Japan is eighteen. However, some have suggested that this will never fly, simply because having university students would defeat the purpose of the high school girl genre. However, series that feature older characters have worked reasonably well before (e.g. New Game!, Sakura Quest and Shirobako). Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Yūki’s fears do not come to pass, as Sayaka and the Breakwater Club sit down together for a peaceful lunch, bringing the tenth episode to a close.
- While fishing, Hina and Natsumi come across a White-spotted Spinefoot (Siganus canaliculatus), a species of rabbitfish: Natsumi is swift to note that these fish have venomous spines and suggests that Hina (carefully) return it. Having eaten rabbitfish before, Natsumi finds the flavour to be overpowering: but Yūki is insistent that they keep it. Rabbitfish are indeed commercially farmed and used as food. Although consuming improperly prepared rabbitfish can result in hallucinations, they are widely-cultivated and have a more moderate flavour. Natsumi is unconvinced, and so, Yūki decides to send in the big guns after Hina releases it.
- Les Stroud notes that there are three basic criteria as to judging whether or not something is safe for general consumption: whether something has bright colours, moves slowly and smells bad. It is sufficient to make the decision not to eat something if one of those traits are seen, and Natsumi remarks that the White-spotted Spinefoot Hina’d caught smells bad. However, Makoto is versed in preparing rabbitfish, and at Yūki’s request, steps in to show the pair how to properly prepare one when Hina catches a second White-spotted Spinefoot. It turns out that, after the spines are removed, the fish should be swiftly gutted so the organs’ chemicals do not leech into the flesh. Hina and Natsumi are surprised at how good the resulting sashimi tastes.
- After enjoying whiting tempura for dinner, Hina becomes interested in catching whiting for herself and makes the suggestion at the Breakwater Club the next day. The Japanese Whiting (Sillago japonica) is locally known as kisu. A commercially-fished species in Japan, the Japanese Whiting is very popular in Japan, enjoyed as sushi or tempura, with its flaky texture and a subtle sweetness. If memory serves, Rin enjoys Whiting tempura as a part of her lunch during her solo outing in the Heya Camp△ OVA at a local restaurant en route to her campsite, attesting to the fish’s popularity in Japan. However, catching Japanese Whiting presents a different kind of challenge for Hina: although they’re not terribly large (reaching a maximum length of thirty centimetres), catching them is preferably done with live bait, such as ragworms.
- Upon seeing these creepy-crawlies, Hina’s enthusiasm to go fishing for Whiting evaporates. Her scream is loud enough to bring the shopkeeper back inside to see what’s going on, and once he gets a measure of what’s going on, he recommends artificial bait to Hina. More durable than live bait, and reusable, artificial bait is also cleaner and easier to store. Their advantages are immediately apparent for Hina, who wishes she’d known about artificial bait sooner. When asked, Yūki remarks that she’s come to grow fond of watching Hina’s reactions, which are admittedly adorable. However, artificial bait also has a set of drawbacks, with the main one being that artificial lures require a bit more skill to use: fish aren’t as readily attracted to these compared to live bait.
- Hina’s exchange with the shop keeper shows that she’s learning, becoming more familiar with the different sizes of hooks and other details required for a successful day. With their equipment and provisions ready, the Breakwater Club prepare to head out for a day of Whiting fishing. The club thus begins to head on over to Tsurugahama Beach, the same spot where they’d gone fishing for Flatheads back in the third episode. The observant reader will notice that Hina and the others are equipped with their automatic floatation belts. Since the events from the ninth episode, the girls wear these as a safety measure in the event they fall into the ocean.
- In any other anime, the combination of a beautiful beach and summer weather would mean that swimsuits and a laid-back sort of day would be inevitable. However, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is in a different category, and beaches are simply another place to fish at. However, it does seem a waste to not frolic at least a little in the white sands and warm waters at Tsurugahama Beach before setting about their day’s feature activity. Looking back at this past summer, the weather most resembled what was seen in Houkago Teibou Nisshi during August: every weekend saw flawless skies, and I capitalised on this by exploring the area, visiting places that I’d never visited previously. Since September, the weather’s been passable, although the combination of shortening days and more overcast weather means that opportunity to enjoy pleasant weather will be on the decline.
- Yūki provides Hina with a primer on how to draw in the Whiting using her rod, and having prepared her line, Hina is excited to begin catching Whiting. To catch Whiting, the line needs to be prepared so that the hooks don’t catch on the bottom. Armed with their live bait, Yūki, Makoto and Natsumi begin reeling in Whiting on short order. Encouraged, Hina sets about trying to catch Whiting of her own. Uncha However, after a full afternoon, Hina has nothing to show for her efforts. Makoto and Natsumi are itching to give Hina advice, but Yūki stands them down, explaining that this should serve as a learning experience for Hina: fishing doesn’t always end in success, and one of the luxaries of fishing for the Breakwater Club is that there is room to fail and learn.
- In a survival situation, being shafted can be a huge demoraliser: on multiple occasions, Les Stroud had attempted to catch fish without proper gear for Survivorman and typically comes up short. For Hina, catching nothing on an outing is, fortunately, not a matter of life or death, but she remains too dejected to consider potential improvements as the day comes to an end. Yūki reluctantly steps in and gives Hina a hint, that she’d only shown her how to catch Whiting using live bait. Artificial bait has different properties than live bait, and therefore, it stands to reason that a different technique would be involved.
- With this clue to go on, Hina spends the evening looking up how to properly use artificial bait for catching Whiting: lures often require a correct combination of line lengths, hook sizes, weights and colours, in conjunction with movement to convince the fish that the lure is real. Armed with this newfound knowledge, and seeing folks successfully catch fish with artificial bait online, Hina’s spirits are restored, and she’s ready to hit the beach again to catch the elusive Whiting. Here, I remark that the internet is an immensely powerful pool of knowledge available at one’s fingertips, but nothing is a match for field experience. The finale has Hina putting the suggestions online together with her own experiences; since the information people share online can also be dependent on their circumstances, preferences and equipment, I’ve always found that online resources act more as a hint, rather than a step-by-step solutions manual for problems.
- A common enough case-in-point is when I search for information surrounding specific errors I encounter during iOS development. People online often report the same error, but under completely different circumstances, and the solutions they take towards solving the problem is probably for their specific use case. As such, after reading their solution, I assess what aspects of their solution are relevant to me, and then I decide whether or not I can attempt their solution as it is, or hand-pick parts of it to synthesise my own answers. In this way, I find that I solve a problem in a way that is much more appropriate for the problem I faced, rather than jury-rigging a solution that was meant for a different context.
- This is something that Hina comes to realise during her second attempt. After spending the day psyched up to go fishing again, she notices that moving the rod in a convincing manner allows her to get nibbles, but something still isn’t quite right. When Hina decides to try a different spot, Natsumi spots a difference in how Hina is fishing. Hina’s come a long way from the first episodes, and she’s actively engaged in the process now, taking the initiative to learn more on her own. I imagine that Hina’s desire to pursue excellence, evident in how she approaches fishing, is also likely how she became so proficient with handicrafts.
- After a lack of success, Natsumi decides to sit Hina down for a break, and during their conversation, Natsumi inquires as to how large the Whiting were that the various videos were using: she knows that small differences in circumstances means that what may work in a video may not work in reality, and soon, Hina has her answer: the bait she is using is attractive to the Whiting, but they’re also a little too large; Natsumi and the others had been catching smaller fish the day before. She decides to shorten the lures and gives things another go.
- Hina manages to catch her first Whiting, having found the proper technique for enticing them to take the artificial bait and setting the length up such that the Whiting can actually get hooked. This is Hina’s largest triumph in Houkago Teibou Nisshi: up until now, Hina had been following the techniques that Yūki and the others have taught her, but with the Whiting, Hina needed to figure things out for herself (Yūki notes that the packaging already explains how to use them, and Hina could’ve saved herself the trouble by reading the attached instructions). Independent learning is very much a part of the world I am accustomed to: in software development, unique use cases mean that oftentimes, solutions and algorithms need to be adapted for whatever I am doing. However, resources remain immensely useful because they can set one down the right path, providing an idea of how one can start working something out. Hina warmly thanks Natsumi for having helped her, surprising the latter.
- One of my favourite examples of this is the time where I was implementing a table view in Swift that needed to accommodate both a string search and section index scrolling simultaneously, but no tutorials existed for how to handle this particular function. I ended up using an algorithm to sort the items into a dictionary, and then applied the indexing on this to support the scroll. I then filtered the values of the dictionary for searching, but since the number of elements was constant and a smaller number, this was an acceptable solution. Today, I would probably create an array of objects instead and apply the filter on the array: while a dictionary offers O(1) search if the key is known, in that particular situation, the keys are not used in the search, so iterating over the values of the dictionary would yield a O(n) complexity, same as the array. In that case, the array of objects would be more readable and extensible. Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, the girls enjoy Whiting tempura of their own as the sun sets, and for Hina, this tempura is sure to be doubly delicious, since she’d caught most of it.
- The final half of the finale is a bit of a breather: on a hot day, after Hina braves the sweltering club room to open the windows and air it out, the girls learn that their supply of barley tea is depleted. Japanese barley tea, mugicha (麦茶), is a staple in Japan during the summer, served cold to refresh drinkers. As Hina and Natsumi make enough to keep the clubhouse well-stocked, Makoto swings by and notices matching bag charms on Natsumi and Hina’s school bags.
- A flashback follows, giving viewers a chance to see Hina showing Natsumi how to make plushies, as they’d promised to do so during the seventh episode. These plushies are of the Horse Mackerel, the first fish Hina catches, and to ensure Natsumi can keep up, they go with simpler plushies that don’t come apart. It’s a touching moment, and while Natsumi’s plushie doesn’t come out perfectly, it’s still serviceable, rather similar to how Hina’s preparation skills are a little rough: the gentle atmosphere suggests that with time, much as how Natsumi could improve at handicrafts, Hina can improve her fishing.
- The Houkago Teibou Nisshi soundtrack also released today alongside the finale: it consists of forty-two tracks, thirty-eight of which are instrumental cues, and then four of the remaining songs are image songs, sung by each of Hina, Yūki, Makoto and Natsumi’s respective voice actresses. There is a great variety of moods conveyed by the incidental music, and to no one’s surprises, my favourite tracks are the songs that convey a hot summer’s day: 放課後ていぼう日誌-メインテ一マ- (Houkago Teibou Nisshi -Main Theme-), 釣りって、楽しい! (Fishing is Fun!) and 今日はなにを釣るんですか (What are we catching today?). The use of wind instruments and percussion in Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s soundtrack gives it a warm, inviting sense reminiscent of both Yuyushiki and Non Non Biyori‘s incidental music.
- While Yūki has no particular interest in making plushies, she immediately realises the depth of Hina’s skill and considers opening a stall at the local flea market. Given the quality of Hina’s handicrafts, Yūki believes they could command a good price. Hina sees through this plot immediately, and later, after seeing Hina’s handiwork, Natsumi wonders why Hina didn’t leave the Breakwater Club to do activities with the Handicrafts Club. The reason is two-fold: Hina’s come to love fishing with Natsumi, Yūki and Matoko, feeling handicrafts is something she can do whenever she’s got time.
- The second reason is a bit more amusing; the handicrafts club is inexplicably all-male, and Hina had been dissuaded from joining as a result. I remark that in this final post for Houkago Teibou Nisshi, I’ve not done any location-hunting. This is because the last three episodes all happen in familiar turf, in and around Sashiki. While this means I don’t get to break out the Oculus Quest, drop myself off in Sashiki and look around for locations, it also reduces the amount of effort taken to write this post: one of the great joys about series like Houkago Teibou Nisshi is that I am looking up the real-world equivalents to what Hina and the others are doing, but this also takes a bit of time, as I strive to ensure that what I’ve got here is accurate for the readers.
- When everything is said and done, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is a solid A+ (4.0 of 4.0, or 9.5 of 10): immensely enjoyable, informative and adorable, Houkago Teibou Nisshi certainly piqued my interest in fishing. Despite my having no prior experience in fishing, Houkago Teibou Nisshi properly walks viewers through the details. Houkago Teibou Nisshi stands out for utilising all its characters to provide a perspective of different skill levels. Hina doubtlessly stands in for folks like myself, who have not fished before. Natsumi and Yūki act as entry-level instructors who present the basics such that Hina knows what to do (and also to allow beginners to follow along), while Makoto acts as a guide for the experienced. Altogether, each of Hina, Natsumi, Yūki and Makoto represent a different level of skill, allowing all viewers to enjoy Houkago Teibou Nisshi.
- It is a little sad to see Houkago Teibou Nisshi draw to a close with its final haikyu: “always look after the ocean”. Having a good slice-of-life series in a given season always brings a smile to my face, and I am rather fond of anime of this style. The next season where an anime of this calibre will grace viewers is in January 2021, when Yuru Camp△ returns with its second season. However, in the upcoming season, GochiUsa: BLOOM will be airing, filling the void that Houkago Teibou Nisshi leaves behind. The fall anime season looks to be extremely busy, and I have plans to do episodic reviews for GochiUsa: BLOOM, as well as Strike Witches: Road To Berlin. In addition, Kamisama ni Natta hi, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Iwa Kakeru! Sport Climbing Girls also have my interest. It’s going to be interesting to see just how the next three months pan out, and in the meantime, I have both Halo 3: ODST and The Division 2‘s third manhunt season to unwind to during the brief intermission between the two seasons.
Acting as a balancing act between entertainment and informing viewers of the subtleties of fishing, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is an excellent series that is to fishing what Yama no Susume is to hiking, and what Yuru Camp△ is to camping. Simultaneously instructive and adorable, Houkago Teibou Nisshi shows how with the right instruction and encouragement, individuals of all backgrounds and experience levels can get into a new activity. Hina’s entry into fishing is gentle, and with ample instruction from each of Yūki, Makoto and Natsumi, viewers feel as though they’re right there with Hina as she learns the basics surrounding fishing, from picking the right rod and hook size, to preparing the bait needed and making the correct motions to draw in the fish of choice. It is clear that a great deal of attention was paid towards these minor details to create a compelling and accurate depiction of fishing; together with solid artwork and animation, as well as a warm, inviting soundtrack and a cast of lovable characters, Houkago Teibou Nisshi stands alongside the giants of its genre, being informative, cathartic and a fun series to watch. Such a series is one that could easily gain a continuation, but owing to flooding in the Kyushu region, where author Yasuyuki Kosaka resides, the Houkago Teibou Nisshi manga has gone on indefinite hiatus. Until Kosaka’s situation improves, it stands to reason that for the present, Houkago Teibou Nisshi will see another intermission. With this being said, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is an excellent series, and I am confident that once things look better for Kosaka, Houkago Teibou Nisshi will resume in all of its glory, with a second season becoming reality once there is enough material to adapt. When that occurs, I will certainly be returning to watch and write about this excellent series.