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Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho – 02

「歌舞伎町フリーマントル」 (Kabukichou Furiimantoru)
“Kabukicho Fremantle”

In my preview on this show, after describing the staff/studio, I said, “This is a leap of faith on my part, and it would need to be on yours too, because “high school girls visit the South Pole” sounds silly, no doubt.” A key difficulty of this story is in taking a premise that’s in the uncanny value of unbelievable—not nearly as crazy as “Auto-Memories Doll learns about love”, “Kids pilot women-shaped mecha”, or whatever goes down in Fate/EXTRA, but on the continuum of realistic stories, we all damn well know that no high school girls are going to Antarctica—and making us believe. They could have handwaved this away, and said, “High school girls can go to Antarctica because SHUT UP they just can!!”, or they could turned into the issue and addressed it head-on. The former would have required a silly, irreverent tone, and would have made for a completely different show. This was the right decision, and so far, they’re slaying it.

But first, Miyake Hinata (Iguchi Yuka). It feels like she may have joined in on the adventure too quickly, but enough work was done to convey why she was doing it—she doesn’t like to be part of the crowd, she’s not in school, she has two years until college exams, she was jealous of what she saw in Kimari and Shirase—and it all groks with what we’ve seen to make a complete, two-dimensional person, so I’m on board. That’s my reaction personally, if you said it felt too easy, I’d totally see where you’re coming from. I’m well aware of my tendency to gush and forgive stories I’m jiving on, this one definitely included, so you won’t hear any argument from me if you disagree. I do think that forgiveness is the reward great work gives a storyteller, though, so I’m happy to give it. If you are doing great work, I’ll forgive a fumble or two. Seems fair to me.

It also helps that Hinata is instantly likeable, both on her own and how she mixes with the other two. Another avenue of forgiveness: if it’s fun, I’ll come along! I especially liked her in contrast to Braid-chan, who, while not a total downer, was definitely more of a skeptic. I get it, and it’s a good storytelling choice to have a semi-supportive character like that who can say what the audience is thinking, but I always try to be the person who supports others in their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or drink less or whatever, even if I might secretly doubt that they’ll stick with it. Doesn’t matter, I’ll cheerlead you and believe in you until the end. I’d rather live in a world with more Hinatas.

How the show addressed the mundane absurdity of the girls’ quest was savvy. The Civilian Antarctic Expedition is an essential piece, but making them go farther and implement an actual plan to try to get on there—and then having the sensible adults chase their asses down and disabuse them of this fantasy, and to have Shirase’s second, better plan be shot down as well, shows that if these girls are going to get on that boat, they’re going to have to earn it. There won’t be any easy paths, and the writers are practically going down the list of possible audience objections and checking them off one at a time. It was also hilarious watching them argue over who’s going to do the seducing, because they’re all so bad at it! Just a hilarious bit of character comedy. Moar plz!

But undoubtedly the highlight was the run. This is not a show about Antarctica, not really. It’s about the journey, and what making the attempt will change. That’s a wise theme, because as much as I’m on board with their attempt, it’s still friggin’ Antarctica, which is still a terrific place to go if you want to struggle and then die. The run encapsulated this journey as motion, of moving toward something worthwhile, even if they don’t grasp it (something Kimari would still refute the worth of, but I think that’s where this is going). I don’t suspect we’ll spend the entire season watching them try and fail to get on that boat, but I think that for reasons of TV logic, because I’m pretty sure the writers want to play with their characters in Antarctica. If they were real people, though, I do believe the attempt has worth regardless of the results. Which goes for each of us as well.

Bonus points for how many different sides of the girls we got to see, especially Shirase. So many sides to Shirase. Also, that coup d’etat!! This staff/studio is so great at character work. No wonder they keep knocking things out of the park. Hopefully they’ll keep it up for the rest of this season.

Random thoughts:

  • I really like the lack of a next episode preview. I like that a lot. The episode itself should sell the next episode. It’d be like putting a preview at the end of each chapter of a book. Why! Just build the cliffhanger into the chapter. Same thing here. Plus we don’t risk spoiling anything this way, which is how magic is born.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: The Last Jedi SUPER SPOILERY Review.

 

ED2 Sequence

ED2: 「ここから、ここから」 (Koko kara, Koko kara) by Minase Inori, Hanazawa Kana, Iguchi Yuka, & Hayami Saori

January 11, 2018 at 12:41 am
18 comments »
  • January 11, 2018 at 12:52 ammanifest

  • January 11, 2018 at 1:31 amAngelus

    I loved the dash through Kabukichou with its “free information” offices acting as an ever-present reminder of the Japanese sex industry, and having that juxtaposed with the irony of Shirase being ignorant of the true nature of JK Osanpo yet then proposing that the way to get on the Antarctic expedition would be to seduce one of its members.

    The “paper child” thing is still looking strange to me, though, especially in scenes showing the whole classroom, but I’ll forgive them that because everything else is just top quality.

  • January 11, 2018 at 2:03 amWorldwidedepp

    Btw, they surly will see an wonderful night sky. Because there where they are going there is no “Light smog” that prevent you for watching the Stars at the night Sky

    Well, of course you still can see them, but you have to leave the City full of “Light Smog”

    • January 11, 2018 at 4:35 amDestynova

      Not really, they are going to Antarctica i December and that is summer time there. That means that they get to see the midnight sun. Basically the sun never sets, it just goes in circles in the sky. Only in the spring and fall do Antarctica have normal days like we know them.

  • January 11, 2018 at 2:07 amjeffers

    this is actually good… i have also plans to undertake my own travel to south pole in one of the days in the future as long as my good life allows it. so an anime about it can be quite educating.

    • January 11, 2018 at 4:00 ammac65

      Here’s to the realization of your dream!

  • January 11, 2018 at 4:19 ammac65

    …especially Shirase.

    Yes, Shirase. There’s a lot more than a single-minded protagonist
    wanting to go on an adventure to find her mother. I was surprised a
    few times by her depth being much more than a one dimensional character
    who simply states “I’m going and that’s that.”

    She’s aligning allies without directly recruiting them by her innocence,
    charm, and straightforward personality. And though her ideas are sometimes
    fail, she has the strength and is willing to adapt and accept others ideas
    rather than it’s her way or the highway. (I really loved the part where she
    suggests Kimari to be an escort girl without fully knowing what it means.)
    That endears her to me.

    I think they’ll make the trip and I’m looking forward to see how the
    writers continue to unfold and develop these characters. Surprising
    amount of depth in a somewhat absurd premise…

    • January 11, 2018 at 6:57 pmStilts

      All good points. For me, I’m just impressed by how long it feels like the writers spent with these characters to figure out who they really are. That’s how they’re able to weave so many layers into Shirase, how they’re able to integrate Hinata so quickly, and how they keep Kimari from being annoying. They KNOW who these people are, and that’s damn hard to do. It’s great.

  • January 11, 2018 at 9:26 amWorldwidedepp

  • January 11, 2018 at 10:23 amIncognito

    http://randomc.net/image/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2004.jpg
    Mari: “Hey, look! This one’s perfect!”
    Megumi (a.k.a.: “Braid-chan”): “What is it?”
    Mari: “They’re hiring high school-aged girls! It’s in the hospitality industry. It’s a job where you talk to boys and go on walks with them and stuff.”
    Megumi: “…” (Looks disapprovingly)
    Mari:“If you do really well, you could even make a million yen per month…”

    (Later sees Shirase suggest to Mari that exact same job.)

    JonTron: “I don’t like where this is going…”

    Show Spoiler ▼

    http://randomc.net/image/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2009.jpg
    Anyway, Yuka Iguchi as “genki girl” Hinata. Hearing her voice alongside Kana Hanazawa once again also makes this a cute reunion of sorts between Haganai‘s Maria and Kobato.

    http://randomc.net/image/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2039.jpg
    Incoming Saori Hayami goodness…

    Well, despite the aforementioned spoiler above, this actually managed to be a lighthearted episode. The music that played during the girls’ run (and the scenery porn of the cityscape, strangely enough) also helped, too.

    And with that (partial) reveal of the fate that befell Shirase’s mother, I can’t help but want to root for Shirase to succeed in going to the Antarctic in order to find that much-needed closure to her mother’s disappearance. So far, this show has managed to impress me within the first two episodes, but I’m looking forward to the next episode going “all in” (as part of the “three-episode rule”) where things are expected to kick into high gear.

  • January 11, 2018 at 12:27 pmDavid

    Also amused by the new background poster for No Game, No Life (“We lend manga”) when they were in the library. They keep pushing it, even though it seems to be getting done in a quite subtle manner.

    • January 11, 2018 at 3:11 pmsealouse

      Season 2 confirmed! maybe

  • January 11, 2018 at 3:16 pmsealouse

    this was so fun to watch. I’m amazed at how detailed everything is. This is some of Madhouse’s best work IMO.

    The one thing that bothers me is that Shirase doesn’t really think her mother is still alive does she? I’m sure what’s really driving her is to have some closure right?

    • January 12, 2018 at 12:51 amStilts

      I have a feeling she’s not thinking about it, because to accept that her mother may be dead is to be forced to come to terms with that possibility, and she doesn’t want to do that. She’s probably deluding herself, on purpose, and when those dark thoughts rise she shoves them back and focuses on her quest to go to where her mother is—with no thought of whether she’ll be alive or dead when Shirase arrives.

    • January 12, 2018 at 7:58 amweasl

      My guess is it’s a combination of being inspired by her mom’s book to visit Antarctica coupled with constantly being told it was impossible. In a way she’s just being a stubborn kid.

  • January 11, 2018 at 5:49 pmChoya

    I caught up from the first two the other day, and I’m absolutely loving this show so far. Hinata did join up a bit early, but she does feel at home with the other two girls considering her particular desire to see beyond just what the standard options for high school students has to offer. Her motivations bounce off of Kimari’s “fear of missing out” and Shirase’s personal reason to find her mother in the Antarctic.

    I do think Braid-chan is pivotal to all of this as well since she is helping Kimari try to hash out how motivated she can get about wanting to pursue going on a trip outside of the city. Still, Kimari and Shirase definitely feel like stronger characters because as the leading cast, they should be. It helps that Shirase is super cute in her mannerisms and behavior.

    Looking forward to seeing where it goes from here, and how they’ll be able to go now that sponsorship is out of the question.

  • January 15, 2018 at 1:30 pmewok40k

    Well, well, well… this is great! no easy handwaves of the obstacles facing the girls, great character development, and stabs at both of the initial girls naivete about the “earning money easy” and “seducing”…
    Since no teenagers have gone to Antarctica probably since 1800s Royal Navy ships junior crewmen, I am extremely curious how the girls gonna do plausibly get there.
    TV station or newspaper could get to sponsor them?

  • Yesterday at 11:34 amWorldwidedepp

    Ep 03:

    I know its an selfish request, but i would be happy if someone would pick up this Anime for this season. I feel “happy” watching it. Also the Seiyu’s are right on the spot.. But i would have still some doubts as if the new friends just do not want to use her… But i bet this will blow away like the new nakama kaze calm her heart

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