OP Sequence

OP: 「The Girls Are Alright!」 by saya

「青春しゃくまんえん」 (Seishun Shakumanen)
“One Mwillion Yen For Youth”

The first episode of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho is proof that a premise encapsulation does not always do justice to the reality of the work. When I previewed this series, I tried to do justice to the promise I saw, for yes, “four high school girls visit Antarctica” sounds like cute-girls-doing-cute-stuff nonsense, and like it’s not giving Antarctica the respect its deadly reality deserves. Yorimoi is none of that. It’s a coming-of-age story, and it takes very seriously the mundane absurdity of its premise. Is going to Antarctica really that crazy? Yes. But is it impossible, and might the attempt be worth the effort? Hmm.

This episode does several tricky things well. First is in featuring a main character, Tamaki Mari (Minase Inori), who’s both kind of an idiot and who precisely diagnoses her problem but is unable to surmount it. The former is only slightly impressive; making your idiot character not an abject aggravation comes down to a good bit of humor and by making them thoughtless and easygoing as opposed to unobservant and stupid. So got that down. It’s in how even Tamaki herself diagnoses her problem, but cannot seem to fix it, even though it seems so fixable.

“What if it doesn’t go well?” “I really don’t want to fail.” “What if I end up regretting it?” These worries are understandable. The issue is that, now that she’s voiced it, it seems so easy to fix. Just do something, right? The reason these issues are so insidious is that most of us don’t realize they’re at play until far after the fact. Or, if you’re a certain kind of personality, that anxiety and worry can so overrule your best intentions to make them hard to get over even when you see them. But that’s really hard to convey to a viewer, so as soon as this was given as the reason, Yorimoi was on a time limit. It needed to find a way for Tamaki to push herself forward, preferably by episode’s end.

And director Ishizuka Atsuko, writer Hanada Jukki, and their team did not disappoint. Once Kobuchizawa Shirase (Hanazawa Kana) entered the scene—who could have easily been a shallow character whose only role, if only in this episode, was to propell the plot/Tamaki forward, but quickly became something more—the light came on in Tamaki’s head. I understand her. I understand what it’s like to meet someone who has what you lack, who’s doing what you wish you could do, and feeling yourself light up. There’s no shame in wanting to do her grand trip with a companion. There’s no shame in waiting until she doesn’t have to skip school. There’s no shame in having frivolous feelings that you decide you’re going to make not-frivolous. And the scene where Tamaki is in bed, with the call backs to previous lines—to her fear, others’ doubts, the request this lonely girl has made—it got to me. I felt emotions stir in my crusty heart, and supremely enjoyed seeing them on their trip together.

This is not slice-of-life. This isn’t about cute girls doing cute things. This is a coming-of-age story, where other characters seriously doubt Kobuchizawa—and now, will doubt Tamaki—for wanting to do something so dangerous, because it is. This is a story of overcoming fear to do something grand, and I have a feeling that the disappearance of Shirase’s mother, while heavy, will play less of a role than it might seem. That’s the impetus, and what is getting Shirase out there earlier than she would have if her mother had survived and she just wanted to follow in her footsteps. What I like is how earnest this story is, and in one episode it’s already got my attention. I don’t much care about Antarctica, but I do want to know where these characters will go, and I feel I was right to place my faith in Ishizuka-san and her team. She hasn’t let me down yet, and this first episode is a great sign. This is but one show in a season filled with potential stars, so I don’t know if I’ll continue blogging this. I will be watching it, though. That, you can take to the bank.

Speaking of: take your damn money to a bank yooou! Sheesh.

Random thoughts:

  • I like how friend-chan was just going around sniffing all the long-haired girls.
  • I wonder what show this team has worked on before HMMMM I WONDER WHO KNOWS I’LL NEVER KNOW HMMMM.

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ED Sequence

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


  1. Glad to see you liked this one. I was also impressed that it was much more of a dramatic

    The journey to getting them to Antarctica may well be the major part of the story, which is fine. Though I do hope that they actually DO get there and get to spend a few episodes there, rather than this being relegated to “in the last episode, we seem them getting on/off the ship” or getting in a situation that might eventually get them there…

    Hmm. If they were simply to take a “raise money for the trip” approach without short cuts (e.g., finding some sort of high school international science scholarship, or stowing away, whatever) then my estimate it is it would cost them about 650,000 to 700,000 yen each for an combination of discount air fare to New Zealand, Australia or other jumping off point (fairly cheap from Tokyo) plus a berth on an Antarctica Cruise vessel. Minimum ages are usually “over 12” though whether unaccompanied minors can do it I’m not sure, but finding an adult mentor who’s going on a trip should be possible.

    Of course, a simple tourist cruise probably may or may not give them the opportunity to visit whatever research facility or expedition area her mom vanished from, but it does give a ball park for getting to the general area to look for clues or talk to people who might have known her if they’re still working their or whatever. Miscellaneous expenses likely to add another 50,000 yen (at minimum they’d want some decent winter gear).

    1. They ain’t gonna find clues as tourists, not unless the search teams are MASSIVELY incompetent. And people who go to Antarctic research stations are many things, but incompetent usually isn’t among them, since even the good ones can end up dead.

      Besides, I maintain that finding her mom isn’t really what’s motivating Shirase. If her mom has been gone for this long, she’s dead or abandoned her, and while finding out what happened would provide some closure, I don’t think that’s really what she wants. I think she wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and get the kind of closure that going where she went would give. Anything else would be a bonus, even if she doesn’t realize that yet herself.

      1. They ain’t gonna find clues as tourists, not unless the search teams are MASSIVELY incompetent.

        That, I think, is the biggest problem facing them. While you may be right that Shirase doesn’t actually expect to find her mother, I do think that she does need to look. For her own sake, and her own peace of mind, she needs to know that she went there and searched for her mother herself. And that’s going to be the challenge, because while it is possible to book tours to Antarctica, as you said it’s very unlikely that they’d be able to accomplish any real searching while on a tour. But if they’re not there on a tour, the only other real option would be staying at one of the research stations, which are probably not designed with the idea of housing non-productive guests.

        Basically, if they’re going to go and do what they’re planning to do, they’d almost certainly have to sign up to work down there. But what qualifications could a group of high school students really present that would make an Antarctic research station want to bring them in over any number of other people who are undoubtedly more useful?

  2. Well, “clues” are relative. I certainly don’t think she’s going to wander off into the antarctic wasteland and find a missing expedition that no one else has been able to find.

    But it’s possible she might meet someone who had worked with her mother, or heard of what happened, or visit the station her mom worked at before she vanished, and so get a better clue of what happened and a better sense of what Antarctica meant to her mom. Of course, it’s equally possible she could find that out without ever going to Antarctica. But as you say, if she does go, it will more likely end up being an emotional and personal experience than anything else.

    Nevertheless, giving the mention of money in the first episode, I certainly think it’s possible Shirase’s plan is “first, get to Antarctica” via a commercial ticket.

  3. Lovely show.

    She’s voiced by HanaKana? I thought the main character was voiced by HanaKana.

    Stilts, be careful what you post on the interweb. You might find the learned flat earthers burning RC down.

    Velvet Scarlantina
  4. Paper Child – the Anime.

    Slightly strange artstyle apart, this was one hell of an opener. Anyone who has read Ursula K. Le Guins’ short story “Sur” will already be familiar with the “girls just wanna have fun in the Antarctic” thing, but Sora yori mo Tooi Basho also strikes a personal chord as I’ve wanted to visit Antarctica myself for a long time.

    It also seems like it might provide some much-needed therapy for all those damaged souls who watched Made in Abyss, where a young girl is willing to brave all sorts of hardships to go in search of her mother, because we can now watch a (hopefully) much less traumatic version of the same basic premise.

    Let’s just hope that Tamaki’s last line in the final episode isn’t “I’m just going outside and may be some time.”

  5. This kinda reminds me of that 5-minute short series Yama no Susume,
    hopefully with much more depth (although Yama did a great job with
    those five-minute sprints), adventure, and character development.

    This could be a good series – just waiting to see where they take it.

    1. I would bet on more depth (or, if someone wanted to be a cynic, attempts at depth). Yama no Susume actually was a slice-of-life cute-girls-doing-cute-things series (both the original uber-short and the slightly longer-per-episode second season), whereas this has the narrative structure of a drama so far.

      1. There is a notable amount of character growth and and such in Yama no Susume, mostly following Aoi’s development from a basically friendless girl who stays home and does crafts and such, trying to convince herself that she’s perfectly happy alone and not being involved in activities, to a girl who genuinely enjoys hiking up mountains, and who has a warm and caring group of friends who support her.

        Certainly the series is a slice of life series where our focus is on the cute girls doing their cute things, but I don’t want anyone to think it doesn’t have its own degree of depth. It even has its own bits of drama here and there, which I won’t spoil, but which are pretty well-handled, I think.

        I don’t mean to confuse the issue. Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho has a distinctly different feel from Yama no Susume. I just don’t want people to dismiss Yama no Susume as being nothing but fluff. It is a good series in its own right.

  6. Those snippets of bonding moments during the end credits though, it feels like they are besties already. Love how they make a what is essentially just a few scenes mean so much.

  7. >I wonder what show this team has worked on before HMMMM I WONDER WHO KNOWS I’LL NEVER KNOW HMMMM.

    They also did HaNaYaMaTa which is such a fun show.

    That was really enjoyable so far. Inori Minase sounds great as always and I was surprised because while I could recognize KanaHana, she didn’t sound exactly like you’d expect either.

    I think the idea of dreaming big put having fear of failure and the unknown are emotions everyone deals with. Honestly, I think that unless the next two episodes really go South, and not in the literal case of the story, this show has got me. Really good sign for the first airing episode of 2018 (not counting the special showing of Overlord II).

  8. I came because I thought this would be a cute girls doing cute things show and I got something better. The art is gorgeous and the characters are likable.

    I am confused about one thing though and it’s a pretty major one at that. Why does Shirase think her mom disappeared in Antarctica? She mentioned that her mom had written a book about Antarctica and that she’d been on an expedition their before mentioning that she’d disappeared but I read that as her explaining that her mom had written the book after completing the expedition. It’s possible that I’m misunderstanding what the show is going for/the conversation but I don’t see the link between “My mother wrote this book. She was a member of an Antarctic research expedition” and “She went missing when I was in middle school though…” as an explanation for why she thinks her mom specifically disappeared in Antarctica.

    1. Honestly, I think like the start of any good series
      (and I think this has good potential to become one),
      in addition to the character introductions and such,
      not everything is spelled out up front – sometimes
      there are gaps in the story that will be unfolded later;
      or it’s just clumsy writing.

      For this series, I’m hopeful it’s the former and not
      the latter. It’d be no fun if the audience knew everything up front…

    2. @Jason

      You’re tripping yourself up. Shirase was in junior high when her mother disappeared. Unless her mom was a shithead parent who ran out on her daughter, Shirase would have known what continent her mom was on when she disappeared. She was on another Antarctic expedition when she disappeared.

  9. “There’s a lot to see in this life… I’m not wasting it here.”

    While I was reserving that quote to paraphrase it for an eventual review of a certain free-to-play video game, it seems that the quote itself also applies well to Mari and Shirase.

    For Mari, she’s desperate to find purpose in life and make the most out of her youth. But her youth feels wasted thinking about the possible consequences of some of her more outlandish plans–causing her to wuss out at the last moment. Meanwhile, Shirase wants to find out why her mother never returned from the Antarctic. So instead of wasting away thinking about the possible reasons for her mother’s disappearance, she saves up a million yen (Off-topic: How many Nendoroids can that money buy?) in order to go on a trip to one of Earth’s last frontiers.

    Well, I expected a slow-burner of an episode, but thankfully, it’s not at the level of Two Car from the previous season (it took a while before the actual Miyakejima TT started). Mari and Shirase’s encounter setting things in motion was paced quite well. OK, perhaps Mari is still testing the water with that visit to the icebreaker Shirase (which is a real ship, BTW), but I guess I’ll wait until the next episode to see if she’ll take the plunge–whether she asks to come aboard the ship with Shirase (the character) or sneak aboard. (Is it coincidence that the ship shares the same name as one of the main characters, or was this intentional? Also, I’m glad it’s not a whaler. Earth-chan should be sighing in relief by now, though I can’t say the same for the folks at Sea Shepherd…)

    About Shirase (the character) being voiced by Kana Hanazawa… Throughout the episode, I was under the mistaken impression that Shirase was voiced by Saori Hayami, mainly because she’s usually typecast as the demure, aloof girl with long, dark hair (Haqua du Lot Herminium, Ayase Aragaki, Yukino Yukinoshita, Reina Izumi, Miyuki Shiba–*shudders*–and to a certain extent, Yumeko Jabami.) But now that I re-checked the cast list on MyAnimeList… OK, either I’m getting rusty with recognizing seiyuu voices, or the seiyuu themselves are doing an excellent job expanding their voice ranges. And I also noticed other well-known female seiyuu on the list as well. Mamiko Noto (Hanazawa and Hayami’s de facto predecessor/mentor[?]) and Yoko Hikasa?! OK, uh…boom.

    This has potential to be a beautiful series with a well-chosen cast–and with gorgeously drawn/animated backdrops of the Antarctic, I hope!

  10. This feels a lot like a “reality-based” Made in Abyss complete with a journey that may be one way in search of a mother who may be anything but. Picking Antarctica – a dreamy place that has so many lovely ways to kill the unwary, just adds to that vibe.

    Could just be me though…

  11. I won’t say I didn’t have doubts about this Anime. In fact I thought it was one of those titles that I watch but will be half way paying attention and half not. At worse I would say yeah I watched that episode at best I remember a scene.

    But this title didn’t turn out that way, not for me. I was very amused by the first episode immediately with the main character…and the adventure, Antarctica. I fear this maybe better than the new season for my favorite CardCaptor Sakura, because I feel my taste for Anime matured.

  12. Yeah Stilts, you nailed everything here. Then again, going by the opening theme animation (I watched the whole thing though) I can guess what journey these girls are going to take.

    Still, very good for first episode. Feels like it’s better as a movie though, this series.

  13. Seeing the opening shots of girls in Antartica it must be warmest time of the year for that light of wear. Seeing the hour plus time and all the layers of clothing it took to survive in the Antartica winter it definitely almost outer space level of the hostile environment. Saw that winter gear in the making of the Penguin Movie. The effort to survive the cold was so high I was thinking just put on space suits and tow out some power and air packs it would be easier than that gear level.

    There are all sort of interesting exceptions to what one thinks the requirements of youth are I would not be surprised if the girls find a real way that Juvenile Adults can go to Antartica with an expedition.

    The mother my best guess fell in a whole as most of Antartica gets little snow. But as the snow does not melt for the most part it can build up and blow around so getting buried in it possible. Of course, there is the mother decides to dump family angle as well, but I do not know how you pull that off when the people going in or out noticeable.

    School bullies are a problem that seems to appear or disappear from anime normally without explanation.

    At least it not an expedition into the still wild parts of the Amazon. The Amazon which almost killed someone from famous Antartica expedition. The Amazon that killed over one hundred people who went looking for Percy Fawcett who disappeared in 1925. Nonfiction reads like the fiction “Lost City of Z”. We can vaccinate against some of the killers but modern problems have still kept the Amazon that is left deadly.

    1. all green:

      The hybrid of Real Life footage and hand draw animations are good. The colors, the lightning and atmosphere are good. They do not feel “outside” of the world with the background and such..

      If you want to see an “heart warm color” Anime, then this could fill your heart

      1. The “Senior” Girls get me the Otome (Mai Otome) Guardian girl/Woman vibes… i wish this Anime all luck and their fans an happy time watching it.

        Lets see, perhaps i could join this trip, too..

  14. I came to see cute girls on a trip to the ends of the Earth…
    I stayed for adventure rivalling Made in Abyss, if this continues.
    Damn you producers I WANT TO KNOW what is theat girls plan for getting there!
    Lost mother is -just like in Made in Abyss – more of an excuse for a journey propelled by wanderlust and desire to explore the unknown.


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