「フォローバックが止まらない」 (Foroubakku ga Tomaranai)
“The Follow Backs Don’t Stop!”

“Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.” -Someone else, not from this anime

It’s clear that the reason Shiraishi Yuzuki (Hayami Saori) is in this story is because they needed a way to get high school girls to Antarctica. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I wished they’d found a more clever way to get them there without having to so clearly create a character with that in mind; I almost wish Shirase’s sponsorship plan from last episode had worked. But them overcoming obstacles to get there, and then overcoming obstacles once there, is what this journey is all about, and if the sponsorship gambit had worked, it almost would have been too easy—and I would have judged the other expedition members for allowing potentially dangerous (to themselves) high school girls to come so easily. Yuzuki’s celebrity provides a way onto the boat, and all the character work that went into her introduction make any qualms over her role in the story fly away. As the leading quote says—from Neil Gaiman, in case you didn’t recognize it—there is luck, and it helps. I’ll allow the girls—and the writers—this bit of luck, after the work they put in to justify it.

Actually, no, I want to talk about this more. Let’s talk about writing luck into your story, and having the characters earn it. In my first book, Wage Slave Rebellion (plz buy my book, that’s also an affiliate link, etc etc), I seemingly violated one of Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling, and one that has some relevance on this episode:

19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

In my book, I needed my main characters to get lucky, for a coincidence to happen to get them into the main plot because there was no way for them to not depend on coincidence. They were effectively rolling the dice again and again, and they would either get lucky or the story wouldn’t progress. So I made them lucky. BUT, I went to great lengths to justify it first. I showed them preparing. Working. Grinding. Getting unlucky again, and again, and again. Failing. Trying again. I went to lengths to show that they weren’t just tripping across this bit of good luck I needed them to have, so that when they got their break, it would feel earned.

That’s part of what makes Yuzuki’s entrance into the story work. Even if I feel like another episode of struggle might have been nice—though I don’t have the full script, and I suspect another episode’s delay here would have damaged events later on, since I trust these writers to do a good job—they spent the past two episodes showing the girls trying and failing, went to lengths to show how many years Shirase has been toiling on her own, and did more of that again here. Even if it might have happened a touch quickly—this is a 13-episode anime, and time constraints are what they are—they did work for it, from putting themselves in the position to be seen by Yuzuki (ambushing the meetup) and working to convince her, or really, to understand her. They put themselves in a position for serendipity by working, which is why Yuzuki doesn’t come off as overly convenient. We all know why she’s here. But she mostly works.

Speaking of working, her struggles with friendship due to being a child actor totally hit home for me. I even liked the dream sequence—and this after I spent a recent post talking about how I hate dream sequences—because it avoided the pitfall of most dream sequences: it wasn’t being used for a cheap “Gotcha!” or to make up for a writer’s mistake. It was used to reveal character, and show just how much the prospect of having some real, actual friends means to her. That moment, when she realized that the other three girls weren’t actually best friends, was a sweet one. I may have to get checked for cavities.

Though I’m not sure how realistic I find a character who works as a child actor continuously from age four until high school and hasn’t become a horrible human being. That might be the most unrealistic thing this show has done.

Speaking of crazy bonkers human beings, Shirase. She continues to delight! From being too shy to finally realizing that she’s only been thinking of herself, she’s crazy, but she’s a lot of fun. A total delight. Not that the others are any slackers, though Hinata still has my vote, even if Yuzuki’s mama doesn’t think she’s got the looks for TV. Don’t cry, Hinata-chan! You’re on TV right now, so you actually made it. Also you’re not real, so there’s that. You’re still a font of great wisdom, though!

“It’s a thin line between self-assertion and selfishness.” -Hinata

Love it. I might use that in my own life, to describe someone we know.

(It’s me.)

Random thoughts:

  • Keep. Shirase. Away from the penguins. She’s out of control.
  • “Most people don’t get to see the aurora, though, do they?” Stilts forecast: Look for the aurora at climax’s first light!
  • “I could just die right now.” Notice how she said it completely differently before the OP than before the ED? It’s like poetry, sort of. They rhyme.

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.


  1. What is she saying, implying Hinata isn’t attractive?! Maybe she doesn’t have the Japanese ideal (small, slender, with long silky black hair) but that doesn’t mean she isn’t lovely anyway. That woman needs to broaden her perspective.

    Not that she could actually have agreed to their proposal anyway. She was brought in because the expedition wanted to make use of a specific talent she’s managing. It’s highly unlikely she would have had leeway to send someone else in place of that talent. Send someone else with her? Sure, that can be justified. But not in her place.

    Anyway, it’s just a lot of fun watching these girls all do their thing. Each of them has a fun and unique personality that really makes each episode enjoyable. 🙂

    PS: Already have both of your books on kindle. By putting those out you accomplished what I’m still struggling to manage, so of course I bought them to support you.

    1. Thank you! I rarely mention them lately b/c I’m wracked with so much guilt that #3 is progressing so slowly, so I appreciate ya gettin’ em 😀 (And not bitching at me for the rare promo, haha)

      I think the only way their gambit worked was is Shirase actually was outgoing enough to be a new star. Maybe she’d be willing to discover new talent? But, like, not likely. 5% chance instead of the 0% they actually had.

  2. Random thoughts time.

    A quote from Neil Gaiman? He certainly did say that, but it’s not original – it apparently goes back centuries and took that general form in the 1920’s.

    Aren’t Pixar themselves guilty of breaking that rule too? I guess that depends on exactly what you regard as coincidence (fans of Arthur Koestler need not apply).

    And finally, everyone should be kept away from the penguins because scientists are becoming increasingly worried about the risks of virus transmission from the increasing number of Antarctic tourists.

    1. Oh, I’m sure Gaiman pinched it from someone. That’s what artists do. It ain’t exactly a new sentiment.

      And yeah, Pixar breaks that all the time. Of course they do. The only inviolable rule is “Dont waste your reader’s/viewer’s time.” Everything else are more of guidelines, really.

  3. Hanazawa Kana became a regular of a national TV show when she was a second grader(elementary school). And the show was quite big one.
    She has been in entertainment industry as an actress ever since then(obviously turned to a voice actress later), but I don’t see her as a horrible person.
    Actually many voice actors in japan today have child acting background.

    1. Can credit genetics a lot of the time as too often we humans are what we are programmed to be. It scary and I hate it but it is a fact the only arguments are over how much vs family and environment. Advantages of a child star is actually doing a job with responsibilities while working with professionals. My observation is the Victorian idea that old people and children would be happier playing is wrong. Back then they created retirement, eliminated child labor and extended the age of children from when you stopped playing with toys to a much older age. Society has already realized that with the old responsibility and work for many is better for their mental health. Some others and I think more responsibility be good for the young as well. I don’t want to bring back full-time work for kids though.
      But it is a mix of results and the parent can make it horrible or great.
      One of my favorite child stars Ron Howard as Director is trying to make the Solo movie good right now. And it seems everyone loves Ron Howard.

    2. @Saburau

      I was being a bit glib, thinking of a Bieber and people like that. Truthfully I can even think of American child actors who turned out fine (hi2u Neil Patrick Harris). I do think voice actors have an advantage, though, in that they’re voice actors, and thus can remain anonymous in everyday life . . . in countries other’n Japan. I don’t think popular seiyuu/idols qualify.

      Really, the warping effect comes when you’re popular from very young. Just working won’t do it. Though not having any friends because of it will screw someone up pretty good eventually.

  4. https://randomc.net/image/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho/Sora%20Yori%20mo%20Tooi%20Basho%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2005.jpg
    Man, that’s a fair amount of ocular gushers in today’s episode… XD

    Ah, the teen idol/celebrity who goes to interesting places as part of her job… Were this a lesser show, Yuzuki’s introduction would have felt like a cheap plot device or contrived coincidence. Thankfully, this isn’t a lesser show and it did a good job in making Yuzuki a compelling character worth caring about, as well as showing it’s also a coming-of-age story for her as much as it is for Mari, Shirase, and Hinata. Seeing Yuzuki finally find friends is a heartwarming first step. (Plus I’m certain this fellowship of “cute girls going to the Antarctic” will go from friends to “true companions” once all this is said and done.)

    “‘I could just die right now.'” Notice how she said it completely differently before the OP than before the ED? It’s like poetry, sort of. They rhyme.”

    Good catch, those were pretty subtle book-ends to this episode. Yuzuki goes from not being interested to go because it’s just another job as an entertainer, to willingly going because she now has friends sharing the experience with her. (Which also accomplished the third episode’s objective of getting the audience “all in” with watching the whole series.)

  5. I am looking closer now, how the “new friends” of her treat her. Not that they just use her to get to Antarctica. But if they really want to befriend her, then “fate” has knocked on her door and she found real friends

    But lets see. Do they gone then separate ways after they return? or will they somehow have K-On (this Vibes are strong here) ending?

    But be an Actor (or full time actor) She will notice if these 3 Girls just put up an mask to get this free ride.. Let her “test” them.. even if that breaks a bit the Happ go lucky flow

    1. i mean, we the Viewer see and know how earnest this Girls are with her.. But put yourself in her skin, you saw them for the first time, and know from your “mother” that they do it for an free ride…

      So, would you still not have a bit of doubt in your back? But to not break up, let this “solution” be quick and harmless for all of them

      “Mother!, i go to Antarctica as you requested. But we do it my way”… do you saw the “we”?.. Good

      This is somehow my way of thinking about this matter

  6. I think a little luck when hard earned makes for great narrative…
    Because real life often works similar!
    See, Battle of Midway. For better part of morning of 4th June 1942 USN and USAF pilots were throwing their planes at the Japanese Carrier Fleet, without much result. Many squadrons were almost wiped out, and one literally lost all planes. Then luck shone on the dive bomber pilots from Enterprise and Yorktown and within 15 minutes they landed devastating hits that proved fatal to 3 of 4 Japanese carriers present…

  7. Yuzuki being their way in to Antarctica was a little too convenient, but it does fit into the narrative with their city antics paying off and Yuzuki being an interesting character who’s troubles with getting roped into the entertainment industry are neat. I am more curious about the ending sequence’s hint towards Shirase’s mother’s whereabouts, but Yuzuki helped to round up our main cast who will be going on the excursion.

    I absolutely agree that Shirase is still a delight to watch. By far my favorite in the group.

  8. I find that TV Tropes advice that Tropes, even bad writing Tropes, are not bad and all can be used in a positive way. I feel the same about writing rules, the rules are just guidelines and can be broken with wonderful results if one is careful and skilled about it. The skill of the writer comes into play the less skilled you are the more you need to stick to the rules till you understand why they are there and then you can start breaking them. Same with music and painting, unless you’re a prodigy master the “right way” to do it and then once you reach mastery you start playing with breaking the rules.
    There is a genre of “getting a job in the entertainment industry”. And the whole genre requires you to break rule 22 or enforce it in failure if you’re doing tragedy. Tons of gifted people going for the same jobs. Everyone says you got to have luck as well as skill to break in unless you’re a prodigy again. So I love what they did with this story.
    Another way the three could have gone requires luck as well. That is a rich person who does not follow societies normal rules noticing the girls and funding them. But then we do not get the child actor character for our story.
    I love the use sex to get ourselves to get on the ship plan failed into success. Shirase, I am fairly certain did not think that plan all the way through as most men would want a taste of the girl before they risked their job to get them on board.

  9. The ending of the first episode fooled me I thought Mari & Shirase had already left for Antartica then you see Mari meet hardworking Hinata. So the girls are working towards finding a clever way to get to a land that has extreme climate conditions that are near inhospitable.

    Do these girls know how to build fire? Do they have skills building a igloo? Are they aware that even if they build the igloo the temperature will still be 0º celsius? And are the girls prepared with equipment and supplies

    I understand Shirase wants to find her mother. But Shirase is so obsessed does she understand she gains nothing if Shirase falls into peril. She will be another victim after her mother and another statistic in the death toll on Antartica.

    1. Uh, are building igloos and building fire (with what?) really things people on this sort of trip do in Antarctica? Okay, if they were doing serious things, they’d teach them how to use a camp stove and how to dig an emergency shelter, but I suspect the expedition is supposed to be big enough that they won’t expect the celebrity and her companions to do this sort of thing. But aside from personal clothing, I assume they’ll have a ship load of supplies to draw upon!

      If they’re realistic, the expedition will doubtless also give them some basic survival training prior to, or at least, while aboard ship; the journey is certainly not instant. These would be things like “how to notice and avoid frostbite” and “how to make sure you stay warm and hydrated” and “what are the signs of hypothermia”. Plus tips for avoiding damaging the ecology.

      The death toll in Antarctica is actually far lower than the death toll by people climbing in and around Mount Fuji, a mere 100 miles or so from Tokyo… mostly because people visiting Antarctica go as part of professional tours or professional scientific expeditions (as the kids will presumably be)… Of Antarctica deaths since in the last 70 years or so (i.e., modern equipment and bases) the vast majority are dying of injuries from airplane crashes during awful weather, or in vehicle accidents (snowcat overturns or goes through ice) in awful weather.

      The “get lost and freeze to death” sort of thing, while not unknown, is very rare.

      1. I agree w/ dP. I have a feeling we’ll get a lot of that training stuff en route to Antarctica, or before they leave for Australia. Shirase will probably play Miss Exposition too, since I’m sure she’s read up (and in some cases, practiced) damn near everything.

        I do think they’ll be expecting the celebrity to do a lot of work, though. Even if she is a celeb, it ain’t the kind of place where someone can free ride off everyone else. I bet the girls will be pulling their weight, even if the more seasoned expedition members will be pulling more absolute weight.

      2. Hrm, this is my mistake then. I thought the girls are going on an expedition same with Shirase’s mom. If this is a just a trip, I would like to know the back story to how Mommy dearest got lost in Anartica in the first place. I really hope she isn’t one of the idiotic types.

  10. Advertisement for No Game, No Life at Lawson’s, with the outside banners this time. 3 for 3.

    A small plot hole, when the two Lawson’s workers were dragged outside, they were back in civvy clothes instead of the store uniform.

    Overall, really enjoyed the Hinata recruitment.


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