「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.
- 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.