「南極恋物語(ブリザード編)」 (Nankyoku Koi Monogatari (Burizaado-hen))
“Antarctic Love Story (Blizzard Arc)”

You’ll have to excuse me if my analysis isn’t as sharp this week, because ol’ Stiltsie is sick. Yet that may give me a convenient excuse for what would be the case regardless, because this episode is about relationships, and I don’t mean ones that involve the ship’s resident punching bag, voiced by Matsuoka Yoshitsugu in some perfect casting. I mean that between Shirase and Toudou Gin, and it’s a complicated one.

The two of them really are alike, aren’t they? In their mutual fascination with penguins, of course, but when Takako said that her daughter needed Gin’s spirit, well, it clearly worked. I don’t know what happened to Shirase’s father—it appears that those who go on civilian Antarctic expeditions don’t have good luck with relationships—but Gin is like the other half that leads to Shirase. She clearly had an outsized effect on Shirase’s development, in a way she likely wouldn’t have had Takako not died. But she did, and the steel in Shirase’s spine can be traced back to Gin, as seen in the way that she practiced jumping rope until she was excellent, no longer caring for the pain of a rope strike on her ankle after Gin-obasan told her a little story. They really are so much alike.

“If I want to change things, I just have to go … to where my mother is, to the place further than the universe.”

So it’s fitting that they can’t communicate for shit, and by the end, they still haven’t communicated all that well. Gin did what she needed to do as a captain, even if it took some chiding to get her to have that uncomfortable conversation. She even pressed in the right place—Shirase’s reasonable mind has accepted that her mother couldn’t have been saved, and that Gin did what she could have done, but that doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t still raw. Not when she lived her life alone ever after, and feels the need to go to the ends of the earth to get closure, and see the place her mother died in and for. They still can’t talk well, in the way that some sets of people will never be able to talk well because they don’t quite mix—they’re too similar, in this case. But the attempt counts for a lot.

Then it came to smash through the ice. This was just pure Yorimoi-as-inspirational-theater, and even when I know they’re reaching for those emotional levers and pulling them hard, I don’t care. They’ve earned it by this point. This show is exceptional at playing these notes, and I’ll let it play them all damn day.

“Time and time again, they found themselves on the brink of giving up, but they dug deep and pressed on.”

Step by step. Year after year. Again and again. You could say this thematically tied in with Shirase and Gin’s relationship, and I probably wouldn’t fight you on that argument, but I think this was more about punching home the series’ theme writ large—that determination in the face of obstacles will get you to where you want to go, no matter what the critics say. Not without consequences! The expedition members are all alone, balding, divorced, poor, and in at least one instance, they’ve ended up dead. This show doesn’t shy away from consequences. But you can still get there, if you’re willing to slam into the ice over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

“It’s beautiful… It’s so . . . very beautiful.”

I lost it. To weave Takako’s final words in there—and any worry that they’d pull a, “She’s actually been alive this whole time!”, which should have been long since ruled out and is all but dashed against the rocks by now—shows that this series accepts that there are consequences to the character’s dreams, serious consequences, to match the seriousness with which they pursue their goals. Then the music played as Gin sobbed, and I had to have a bit of a tearing up myself.

I haven’t talked much about Toshio-kun’s romance, and that’s because it’s not the point of this episode. It’s a vehicle by which the important relationship is explored, and so we can get some good laughs. He’s a bit of a useless guy, and definitely shouldn’t be pursuing his boss during the expedition (you’re free to try afterwards, bud), though since he may be turning his attention to Yumiko—seriously, this guy is hopeless! Don’t by like him boys. At least, when given a clue about what your crush likes, do some thinking yourself.

The episode ends with a crystallization of another of Yorimoi’s primary themes, and I don’t think my words could do it justice. So I’ll let Shirase say it instead:

“In your face… In your face, in your face, in your face! You made fun of me and looked down your noses, but I believed! You betrayed me, thinking it was impossible, but I didn’t give up! And this is how it turns out! Well? I’m standing in Antarctica! In your face, in your face, in your face! In your face!”

Like I said before, ugly emotions can be positive when they’re put to good work, if they compel us to prove the doubters wrong and live our best lives. That’s why the rest of the expedition joins them in a cry. “In your face!” They all know what Shirase and the girls are talking about. They know how they feel. They feel the same, if not more. If you really believe, do everything you can to get to where you’re going, and when you’re far ahead and the doubters cannot reach you anymore, you’re allowed to turn to look behind and thumb your nose at them. “I told you I’d do it!” If it helps you succeed, that’s as beautiful as an ugly emotions can get. Inspirational spite … it works!

Random thoughts:

  • I love the attention to detail, from how the characters gradually wear warmer clothes, to how the headrest was broken when earlier it wasn’t. And the silence that descended when the music stopped and they looked out over the ice… *shudder*
  • The full OP and EDs have been released, and lemme just say: the full-length ED song is even better than the TV version. I’m so glad. It’s already one of my favorite anime songs in a long time. It may be close to 「Days of Dash」 level, which to me, is everything.
  • I’m sick and I still can’t resist writing a thousand words of gushing. That’s Yorimoi for you.

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: Book 3 Progress Report.


  1. Good to see this show understands that WWII was really about mean old foreign countries bullying innocent, peaceful Japan. Bullies never win in the end though, and here we have Japan getting to Antarctica in spite of everything. “In your face!” indeed!

    1. I thought about commenting on that and forgot, so thanks for giving me the opening!

      To be honest, the bar is so low for Japanese media admitting that WWII even happened that seeing an anime at least admit there were consequences to their defeat almost tracks as progress. They dodged having to admit that they were the bad guys (which isn’t surprising; it takes an odd culture like the Germans to admit that sort of thing, and I mean that as a compliment), but Kanae also dodged painting those who gave them the shitty land as the bad guys. Rather, they took it as a challenge, and in the context of this story, that’s the right tone to take.

      I’d still like to see more reflection, or even an actual admission that they were the evil empire, but considering my own country has a fraught relationship with its own original sins (slavery/the consequences thereof, and the mass slaughter of Native Americans), I suppose I shouldn’t throw too many stones. Or at least throw them equally. There’s assholes all over, don’tcha know.

      1. The Anime industry occasionally shows the ugly side of pre-war Japan. I think an excellent anime Joker Game shows the horribly misguided thinking of the Japanese military and its martial code in an interesting way. A spy agency working for Japan with no military members that have a no kill, no suicide policy ran by a spymaster who was kicked out of military school for throwing sand in another kid face in order to knock him out instead of using his own knife to kill him. Get this kid not thrown out for attacking with a knife but the kid who tried not to kill his opponent is thrown out for dishonorable tactics. This agency wars with the Military who does not like how they do things. Japan’s atrocities in China are mentioned even if a bit indirectly.
        Another that really indites Japan is Night Raid 1931. Again a spy agency working for Japan but not the military details the military coup in Japan, and the lies that Japan used to take over Manchuria and set up a puppet government. I almost lost it when the heroes visited a hardcore military unit doing some of the worst stuff and there is a military member of the unit that LOOKS LIKE exactly, acts that way too, as the insulting caricature that Disney and others used to insult the Japanise in wartime comics. The character is short with buck teeth and thick glasses and is shown doing evil things with a bad accent. I know wonder if this character was stolen by American animators from political cartoons in Japan against the military before the coup in Japan or the Japanise animators knew of this character from US usage and basically agreed this insulting view fit the Japanise military the only difference is this was only one member of the unit but sort of typical of what the unit was up to.
        So the wrongs are not totally ignored but yes often they are passed over. Strangely the US destruction of over one hundred Japanise cities, mainly by setting off firestorms, with a death toll of Civilians higher than the atomic bombings is rarely brought up.

      2. I find the sentiment here more understandable than something like the government denying war crimes occurred. Japanese media does sometimes portray Japan as a victim of WWII rather than an aggressor. Did Japan deserve scorn after WWII? Yes. However, how much responsibility should Antarctic researchers have to bear for the sins of their country? Obviously, those in positions of power and those who actively committed atrocities have little ground to complain about negative consequences from the international community. But like we’ve seen recently in Poland with regard to concentration camps, and in the US with civil rights, people who remained bystanders when others needed their help like to absolve themselves of any blame.

        I don’t think having an admission that Japan was the Evil Empire would make sense in this spot. The explanation (part of which was to an elemntary schooler) was basically “we lost, had no negotiating power, other countries gave us a shit spot.” I don’t expect the average citizen to say “we lost, did XYZ during the war so we were rightfully scorned and punished, and we’re lucky to even have a spot in Antarctica after all of that.” If they showed the actual negotiations, then sure, take the blame there. But Japan’s actions during the war is tangential to the main reason why they had little leverage, which is that they lost in the first place.

  2. A beautiful and warm episode (in feels if not in temperature!). I was happy to see some interaction between Gin and Shirase at last. It seemed they just weren’t willing to take the time to talk or even acknowledge that the other was close by, and even a ship as big as theirs can be a small place. Sure they spent a few minutes together the night before they left Fremantle, but now they have a better understanding of where the other is coming from and I hope they each get closer to some sort of closure soon.

    A bit apprehensive at that email message at the end of the episode. I wonder what Yuzu’s mother has to tell her?

    1. I just hope the email isn’t something along the lines of, “Yuzuki, please come home immediately.” I’ll be facepalming quite hard if that’s the case.

      The previous episode already demonstrated how challenging it is to travel to the South Pole. To turn back at this point in time for a flimsy excuse is the height of folly. While such a decision might be warranted on the part of Yuzuki’s mother (parental worries), it would also be a sign of ignorance on how Antarctic expeditions work.

      Not to mention that the other scientists in the expedition won’t be able to properly do their research. And more importantly for Gin, her crew, and Shirase, they won’t find closure to Takako’s death if they turned back now.

      1. i can easily guess that the email is all about their “show”. remember how hinata says that their viewers are plummeting so they plan to spice up their cover by adding expedition members love life?

      2. As much as exploring the expedition members’ love lives (not that one, or its spinoffs) would make for an entertaining show, seeing the girls do experiments and other fun stuff (think MythBusters) that can only be done in Antarctica would be far more interesting…and educational!

        Speaking of educational, among the characters are an astronomer, a microbiologist, and a geologist. Getting a better idea of what they’re studying/researching in the Antarctic would also pique interest from those with scientific persuasions.

      3. I will assume that this has something along the lines of her next job after Antarctica, perhaps also overseas. (or the cancellation of this job) Yuzu is in Antarctica, there’s no turning back now.

      4. Agreed with Jeffers, I think it has to do with their plummeting views. I bet they’ll be encouraged to do something to drum up views that they won’t especially want to do, especially if it drives a wedge in between some of their group.

  3. Toshio: “I’ve always loved strong women like her*!” [* – Gin Toudou. -Ed.]
    Yuzuki: “Why?”
    Toshio: “I feel like… they could protect me.”
    Yuzuki: “You could just die.”

    Damn, Yuzuki! You’re as savage as Ayase! (And as an additional seiyuu joke, it’s also a bit of black comedy when you remember the last time Saori Hayami and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka were together in the same series.) Anyway…

    That’s one small step for Shirase…

    …one giant leap for cute highschool girls.

  4. Jesus, that was not about WWII, but about things AFTER WWII. Like a decade later than the defeat of them.
    Believe it or not, Japan has expressed apologies times and times again. Even made treaties of peace with most countries more than half century ago.
    And also believe it or not, a lot of them Japanese DO feel sorry for what their ancestors did in WWII, although there also do have some people against that kind of sentiment/recognition.
    Too bad for Japan the country is in Asia where someone who apologizes even once would lose everything he/she got and then be told “Hey your apology was so poor that I’m not sure if it even happened. Can you say it one more time?” virtually forever.

    1. Although I personally have no issue with the Japanese about their level of apology, the issue is a thorny one. Just looking at the facts of the matter, it took Japan 40 years to even express regret, let alone apologise, to Western nations for its actions. Regret is not an apology, it means you wish you hadn’t done something rather than you are sorry you did it – a subtle difference, maybe, but one that persistently dogged the Shouwa Emperor in his post-war dealings with other nations.

      1. Personly I think it is wrong for anyone to apologize for actions done by other and in this case a long time ago. I don’t think it has any meaning as they are not the wrongdoers. But I think it extremely important to acknowledge the wrongdoing in the past.

  5. Love the meta-humor of pulling a crying Shirase off the post, and them going “haven’t we done this before”. Even Ayase chiming in with “Have we?” made me chuckle. Loving the comedy in the series.

    1. Way to go with blowing things children say out of proportion, aren’t we, /pol/?

      you know as much as history dictated the outcome of that war, this series REALLY boils down to the characters being:

      1. Children
      2. From a generation that is far distanced from that conflict, as seen by how they describe the war: “they won so we were bullied with the worst territory in the Antarctica :(”

      Bringing historical perspective to a casual commentary thrown by kids who do not know better doesn’t sound right, and assuming that the naïve, reductionist and decontextualized reactions of these characters really has any serious meaning as a political message is, I think, underestimating the show pretty heavily and the reach it has defined for its characters. Sora yori is not a vouch for Japanese nationalism, it is an intimate story of blossoming friendship and adventure.

  6. Haha way to go girls and entire expedition…
    Everyone told you were nuts, that no way you can get there, and there you are!
    “In your face!”
    Also, nice to see some icebreaking (no not literal one) between Shirase and Gin.
    They are really alike… penguins and all.

    1. “The Martian”

      Now just strip Mars and put the Story on Antarctica, make an gender swap, exchange the potatoes with with an Green garden or enough rations on “old safespot base” (perhaps an old abandoned military base) and Voila!!!. But there is still the loneliness all this time

  7. Henrietta Brix
  8. I’ve been on RC for so long, even back as far as Sakurasou and I loved following Stilt’s comments and writing then. Everything he says I’m nodding and agreeing all the time, and even before reading his comments on Yorimoi I was thinking “I like this ending song so much, it’s like Days of Dash level.” With how much Sakurasou (and that song) changed my life, and how much of an absolute gem this show is in every way shape and form, seeing that comment from Stilts brought back so many memories of when I was in high school watching Sakurapet and reading his blogs. Now I’m graduating college and still reading them. Sorry this was more of a Stilt’s appreciation post, but I just wanted to say how much I love this show and appreciate this site and its writers for their dedication!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *