「宇宙を見る船」 (Uchuu o Mirufune)
“The Ship That Sees the Universe”
This is the rare episode of Yorimoi that doesn’t delve into a specific character or relationship. It doesn’t even focus on a theme, though theme happens along the way. The goal of this episode was to get us fully invested in this expedition, even if it’s crazy, even if it would be logical to doubt it or to bow out. The writers want us all in not because the four main characters are involved, but because of everything else—the people, the mission, the camaraderie, and most of all, the determination that’s propelling them. They want us to think like the members of the expedition do, logic be damned.
It starts with the girls’ concerns about the expedition resurfacing. Supplies. Manpower. Budget. There doesn’t seem to be enough of any of it. Will it actually work? All reasonable concerns. So they ask people, and get a sketchy answer—this time, Kanae wants to see the sky. Suspicious! So they snoop around, with plenty of hilarity involved. It was great to see it all, especially because the four girls are really gelling as a group. They have really great chemistry. It’s all a delight to watch.
What tied it all together was Gin’s story about the first expedition, which was really a story about Shirase’s mother. The talk about the sky, and the astronomical observatory Takako wanted to build, but never got to complete, could be the secret plan they’re not telling the girls about. Could be, could be. But that wasn’t the point of Gin’s story, not really. The point of her story, and the scene that followed, is to show what kind of people would embark on this expedition. Headstrong. Tenacious. Determined to a fault. The kind of people who lose their hair, get divorced, and lose their jobs—but nobody got married. The kind of people who would make a promise three years ago, and despite all the trials and tribulations in between, for every one of them to have kept it.
But most of all, it’s to show how much Takako lives at the center of these people’s lives, and how much they’re doing it for her. Because of her unfinished dream. To make sure her life will have meant something. Because they still believe in the mission they first embarked upon three years ago, the mission which she symbolizes.
I once got a piece of advice from an author, before I finished my first book. Here’s what he told me: If you don’t have to write novels, don’t. It’s a crappy gig. But if you can’t not, if it’s something you have to do, then get started. These people—the paraphrase is over now—these people are like that. It’s not that they choose to do this. It’s that they can’t not. They’re the kind of people who are going to Antarctica no matter what, even if it’s not worth it, even if it’s crazy. Because to them, it is worth it. It’s everything. Because they’re broken in strange and interesting ways.
As soon as the insert song started up, tears were already welling up. Through the self-introductions, where the girls so smoothly encapsulated themselves, their motivations, and their journeys into a few sentences, the tears were building. Then Shirase spoke.
“I boarded this ship to do catchy, witty, sensational reporting! I want to open the treasure chest of Antarctica that my mother wrote about with my own hands! Everyone, let’s go to Antarctica together!”
By that point, I had to look away. My vision had grown blurry. At least one of our girls is broken in strange and interesting ways as well.
- Though I spend most of these posts waxing poetic, the comedy is so very good too, from Shirase glomming onto Etopen and basically commandeering it, to the girls’ hilarious spy antics, to Kanae’s admonishment that “…they’re not legal. I’ll say it one more time. They’re not legal. Toshio, you hear me?” Strap me to the emotional rollercoaster, Batman, because they’re taking us all over the spectrum, haha!
- “You want a social life, with friends / A passionate love life and as well / To work hard every day. What’s true / Is of these three you may have two / And two can pay you dividends / But never may have three.” And if you choose a trip to Antarctica as your work, you may not even get two, though your expedition mates can fill in for a social life in a pinch. But to these people, I have a feeling it’s worth it. Nobue-san was smiling by the end.
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